TORONTO - Starting next May, you won't have to wait until nine o'clock to do your laundry.

Government sources tell The Canadian Press that off-peak electricity rates in Ontario will start two hours earlier starting next May.

Off-peak hours will start at 7 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.

A senior government source said the change will help make conservation easier.

"This will help families with an additional two hours in the evening to benefit from lower rates - or an extra 10 hours a week," said the source.

"This help for families - with a little extra time to take advantage of lower prices - is in addition to the new Clean Energy Benefit which will provide families with 10 per cent off of their electricity bills every month, for five years."

Ontario Energy Minister Brad Duguid is expected to make the announcement on Tuesday.

Critics say the switch shows the governing Liberals are desperate to appease Ontarians shocked by rising hydro bills.

"If it helps people actually save money, then I'm for it, but the bottom line is this government's in a scramble," Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath said Sunday.

"They don't know what they're doing one day to the next and they're trying all kinds of different things to try to regain some confidence with the public."

John Yakabuski, energy critic for the Progressive Conservative Party, said the announcement will be "cold comfort to those who are going to suffer through time-of-use pricing this winter."

The Liberals "have botched the whole issue of the energy file and time-of-use pricing so badly, can't admit that it's a total mess, so they're incrementally trying to curry favour by trying to entice the electorate with some sort of a break," he said.

It's the second step the provincial government has taken in the past few days to offset soaring electricity prices.

The government announced last week that consumers will get 10 per cent rebates on every hydro bill to offset the fact that power rates will jump 46 per cent over five years.

Discount rates will still apply to weekends and holidays.