You have a number of methods to choose from when it comes to finding electric rates in Canada. Some of these methods are faster, others are slower. Some methods are accurate, other methods, not so much.
You essentially have three places where you can find Canada electric rates in one place. And you have seven things to consider in order to decide which methods works best for you and your needs.
Three sources of electric rate data in Canada
- Provincial public regulatory websites
- Utility websites
- Electric rate databases
Seven ways to determine the appropriateness of each source
- Accuracy: How correct is the data?
- Timeliness: How up to date is the electric rate data?
- Ease: How easy is the data to find?
- Time: How much time is required to find what you want?
- Use: How easy is electric rate data to use once you find it?
- Expertise: What level of expertise do you need to make sense of the data?
- Cost: How much do you have to spend to use the source of electric rate data?
Let’s look at each source of electric rate data in turn, and examine how they compare with each other.
Good: Provincial Public Regulatory Websites
Let’s begin with provincial public regulatory websites, the most common source for electric rate data. Each province and territory in Canada has a public utility commission that regulates and publishes electric rates.
Accuracy: The level of accuracy of electric rate data found on provincial public regulatory websites is high. It’s actually the highest it can be because regulatory bodies are the governing source of rate information.
Timeliness: Electric rate data on these sites is also always the most up-to-date data that you can find.
Ease: How easy electric rate data is to find on provincial public regulatory websites depends on the province or territory. Some provinces make their websites easy to browse and search. They have excellent navigation, are clearly laid out, and make electric rates easy to find. Other provinces make the job more difficult.
One consideration about these public websites is that each province uses different terms to describe the same variable, gives fields for the same thing different labels, and offers a mix of fields for performing searches. For example, one provincial website lets you search by utility name, for example, but not by type of document, while another provincial website lets you search for both.
Time: The time required to find the electric rates you are looking for depends on how easy the site is to browse and search. The more intuitive the site, and the more search options it offers, the less time you require to find the data you need.
Use: Provincial public regulatory websites typically display electric rates in a Word document or PDF. These documents usually feature multiple tables throughout. Provincial public regulatory websites never offer this data in a searchable database. This makes the data less easy to use than the data you find in electric rate databases.
Expertise: Finding electric rates in Word documents and PDFs requires a high level of skill. You must review documents thoroughly, deciphering each source individually. And you must know when you have found what you are looking for.
Cost: The cost of finding electric rate data on provincial public regulatory websites is affordable because the data is always freely available.
Better: Utility Websites
Every electric utility in Canada has a website. On these websites each utility publishes their electric rates. Finding these rates is typically easier than it is on provincial public regulatory websites, but not as easy as it is on electric rate databases.
Accuracy: The level of accuracy of electric rate data found on utility websites is high.
Timeliness: This varies with each utility. It depends on how often each utility updates its website. Some utility websites are always up to date while others are a few days or even weeks behind.
Ease: How easy electric rate data is to find on utility websites depends on the utility. Some utilities work hard to make their websites user-friendly, easy to navigate and easy to search. Their navigation menus are intuitive, their pages are well designed, and they make their electric rates easy to locate. Other utilities make your job more difficult.
One thing to note about utility websites is that they vary by utility. If you are searching multiple utility websites, don’t be surprised to discover that utilities use different terms to describe the same thing, and name fields for the same thing differently. This makes ease of use a challenge for multiple-utility searches.
Time: The time you must expend looking for and finding what you want depends on how well laid out the website is, how intuitive their navigation is, and how robust their search function is.
Use: Utility websites also display their electric rates in a Word document or PDFs that may feature multiple tables throughout. They never offer this data in a searchable database. This makes the data less easy to use than the data you find in electric rate databases.
Expertise: Finding electric rates in Word documents and PDFs requires a high level of skill. You can’t just enter a search term and hit search. You must look over an entire document from top to bottom—and know what you are looking for.
Cost: The cost of using a utility websites is also affordable, since there is no charge.
Best: Electric rate databases
The best option for finding accurate and up-to-date electric rates quickly and easily is electric rate databases. These databases are compiled by companies in the private sector that gather, standardize and display electric rate data in searchable databases for a fee, typically a monthly subscription.
Accuracy: The electric rate data you find in these databases depends on the database vendor. Some companies are more strict with their quality control and data verification practices than others. Some firms, such as RateAcuity, offer rate schedule accuracy stats of 99.99%. Other databases do not offer accuracy guarantees.
Timeliness: How up to date the electric rate are in each database depends on the company behind the database. That said, electric rate databases tend to be up to date.
Ease: Electric rate databases offer the greatest ease of use of all three methods. These databases are designed from the ground up for searching, not browsing. They typically offer a standard interface for all of Canada, with no variance by province, territory, or utility. All data is named the same way, all fields are named the same way, and you don’t have to search an entire website to find what you want.
Time: Electric rate databases are the fastest method because they are designed to give you exactly what you are searching for with a few clicks. RateAcuity customers tell us they save hours per search with our Canada electric rate database compared with the other two methods.
Use: The data you find when using an electric rate database is much easier to work with because it comes in a standardized format. If you run a query for electric rates from nine provinces, for example, and if those provinces use different terms to describe the same thing, you don’t have to make sense of the results because the people who manage the database standardize all terms.
Electric rate databases also feature reports with standardized layouts. Regardless of how and where provincial public regulatory websites and utilities present their information on their websites, electric rate databases like RateAcuity always put the same sections in the same place for each report. You don’t have to hunt. You will always see a section of the report data that is for fixed monthly charges, for example, and another section that shows usage-based charges.
The data you find when using an electric rate database is also easier to use because it comes in a digital table format. You download data as Excel files or integrate it with your back-end office systems using a simple API.
Expertise: The level of expertise you need to understand data from an electric rate database is also the lowest of the three methods because all data from all sources is in a standard format that minimizes the need for translation or interpretation.
Cost: Of the three methods, only this one involves a cost. But you are wise to compare that cost against the return on your investment, since the best electric rate databases save you a great deal of time. The time your staff are wasting on searches can be put to better use on tasks that add value and drive revenue.
If you need to gather electricity rates in a convenient, accurate manner, and if you place a value on your time, consider investing in an electric rate database like RateAcuity. Our electricity rate database provides on-demand nationwide electric rate data. You make decisions without the hours of labor it takes to locate information using other methods. View our datasheet, or start your free trial.