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Canada - Electricity

110-120V 60HzHz
Plug types: 1) American-style with two parallel flat blades above a circular grounding pin; 2) with just two parallel flat blades.

In Canada it is the authorities in each province that are responsible for regulating the companies that provide domestic and commercial electricity services. Providers have to be licensed by the authorities, but because there are so many provinces there are many different companies in each one and you may find that you are in a region which has a very open ‘competition’ among providers or a region that is strictly regulated and which gives you less choice. Details of providers can be obtained from local authorities or simply found in the local yellow pages.

When you move to Canada you may hear the electricity supply referred to as ‘hydro’. This is simply because much of the electricity supply is generated by hydro electric power, around 60%, making it one of the world’s highest generators of this type of power. Quebec has one of the highest outputs of hydro electric power in the country and the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Manitoba also have high levels of hydro electric power. The use of hydro electric power depends upon geographical factors and cannot be readily established in all areas.

Fossil fuels are used to generate electricity too in some areas although it amounts to less than 25% of the total electricity production in the country. Provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan rely on this type of energy production and have large coal deposits. Nuclear power is used to produce around 16% of the country’s energy needs and Ontario is home to 20 of the 22 nuclear power plants in the country. Finally, the country makes use of renewable sources of energy including biomass, wind and solar power, although these are in small quantities as this is type of energy production is still in the early stages of development.

Domestic consumption of electricity has risen every year since 1990 in Canada, mainly due to population growth and increased use of electrical equipment. There are measures in place to ensure that any outages are limited, although these do occur and residents should be prepared for them. The authorities try to ensure that production exceeds demand at all times in order to prevent shortages.

In order to get connected you simply choose one of the companies that is supplying your area and give their customer service department a call. You will be asked to provide a certain amount of documentation such as proof of ID and proof of address. As an expat some companies may ask you to provide proof of your visa status and occasionally a deposit for connection may be required. Connection can usually be done fairly quickly so as soon as you have confirmation of your address you can arrange for the electricity to be switched on and the account set up in your name.

Meters are usually read quarterly although you may occasionally receive a bill that is estimated. In this instance you are able to provide a meter reading in order to get an accurate bill. There are many ways in which you can pay your electricity bill in Canada. Many people choose to use the direct debit system or pay the bill online, although there are still those who prefer to pay by cash over the counter at the bank or the offices of the service provider. There is also the option to send a cheque through the post to clear the bill.

The electrical system in Canada uses the 110 volt system which is the same as that of the US. Most appliances can be used with a simple adapter although a transformer may be required if the appliance is marked ‘110v-220v’. Electrical appliances in use in the country must be approved by the Canada Safety Association. If you are using an appliance that is not approved then you may invalidate your home insurance if there is an incident such as a fire. The electrical plug used in Canada is the type A plug and this is also known as the NEMA 1-15. It has 2 flat pins that are parallel and are the same as those used in the US. Adaptor plugs are readily available at many outlets, particularly in the cities and are not expensive.

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