News & Events

Conference Materials for 2018 LIEN annual conference - Toronto

"Ensuring Universal Access to Energy"

Date: Friday, May 4, 2018
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: 63 Gould Street, Oakham House, Ryerson University, Thomas Lounge (ground floor)

CONFERENCE KIT

Agenda 2018

Acronyms 2018

LIEN 2-pager 2018

Info sheet on low-income energy financial assistance programs 2018

Info sheet on low-income energy retrofit programs 2018

List of participants 2018

Speaker bios 2018

Evaluation 2018

PRESENTATIONS

Ontario's Electricity System and its Implications for the Future - Mark Winfield (York University)

Affordable energy programs for Ontario’s low-income consumers - Mary Todorow and Jennifer Lopinski (LIEN)

Update on LEAP, OESP, customer service rules - Donna Kinapen (OEB)

Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs - Scott Clark (Union Gas)

Low-Income Energy Efficiency Programs - Cam Black (Enbridge Gas)

Centrally Managed Save on Energy Home Assistance Program - Nik Schruder (IESO)

Exploring Access to Energy as a Human Right - Adrienne Scott

Register now for the 2018 LIEN annual conference

Register now for the 2018 LIEN annual conference, "Ensuring Universal Access to Energy", which will be held in Toronto!  

Date: Friday, May 4, 2018
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: 63 Gould Street, Oakham House, Ryerson University, Thomas Lounge (ground floor)

Let’s come together to share solutions, common challenges, and to celebrate our successes in helping low-income consumers meet their home energy needs.

Do you know what the Fair Hydro Plan is? Are you overwhelmed by the acronyms? Do you want to know what OESP, LEAP EFA, HAP, and CHPI stand for and how they may be able to assist you or your client to meet their energy needs?

Come to the LIEN annual conference to find out:
 
• Why electricity prices are rising
• Where to obtain  information on free energy conservation and efficiency retrofit programs to help you lower your electricity and gas bills
• How to apply for financial assistance to help you pay for your electricity and gas bills
• Energy as an aspect of the right to housing
 
Leave with an enhanced awareness and understanding of existing energy assistance and conservation programs.

We hope that the conference results in new and increased collaboration, new approaches, and improved practices across the province.

This event is open to anyone with an interest in reducing energy poverty in Ontario, including:
• Community legal clinic staff
• Social service agencies
• Frontline service providers
• Low-income advocates
• Anti-poverty groups
• Utility representatives
• Government decision-makers

 
Click on the link to view the DRAFT AGENDA

There is no registration fee for this conference and a gluten-free vegetarian lunch will be provided, but we ask that you register as soon as possible so that we can order the right amount of food. Space is limited. Preference will be given to those who register by April 27, 2018.
 

Registration is now closed

Conference Materials for 2017 LIEN annual conference - Kingston

Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: Confederation Place Hotel, 237 Ontario Street, Kingston

CONFERENCE MATERIALS

Agenda 2017

Acronyms 2017

Evaluation form 2017

LIEN 2-pager 2017

PRESENTATIONS

 Who Does What: An Explanation of Ontario’s Energy System: Mark Winfield, York University

The True Impact of Climate Change Policies on Consumers’ Electricity Bills: Keith Stewart, Greenpeace

Understanding Ontario’s Electricity Pricing and the new OEB Consumer Charter: Nancy Marconi, Ontario Energy Board

Helping Ontarians Reduce their Energy Burden: Francesca Dobbyn, United Way of Bruce Grey

Gas Utilities’ Low-Income Conservation Programs: Cam Black (Enbridge Gas Distribution), Margaret Nuttall (Union Gas Limited)

Know Your Bill: Components of a Typical Residential Electricity Bill: Stephen Sottile, Utilities Kingston

LIEN advocacy activity update: emerging issues, wrap up and going forward: Theresa McClenaghan (Canadian Environmental Law Association/LIEN), Mary Todorow (Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario/LIEN)

Register now for the 2017 LIEN annual conference

Register now for the 2017 LIEN annual conference, “Shedding Light on Ontario’s Energy Sector”, which will be held in Kingston this year! The event will be hosted by The Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.

Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: Confederation Place Hotel, 237 Ontario Street, Kingston

What:
An energy literacy conference that will provide you with the foundational information necessary to build knowledge, insight and understanding of essential energy issues that affect your everyday life.

Why:
To empower low-income communities by giving them the tools to engage more effectively with policymakers on energy issues that affect them.

Come to the LIEN annual conference to find out:

• Why electricity prices are rising and Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan
• How to understand your electricity bill
• Where to obtain information on free energy conservation and efficiency programs to help you lower your electricity and gas bills
• How to apply for financial assistance to help you pay for your electricity and gas bills

 

There is no registration fee for this conference and lunch will be provided, but we ask that you register as soon as possible so that we can order the right amount of food. Space is limited. Preference will be given to those who register by May 7, 2017.

FINAL AGENDA

Bus tickets to and from the Confederation Place Hotel will be generously provided by the Kingston Community Health Centres.

Registration is now closed.

 

Vulnerable Ontarians to see significant reductions in their electricity bills

For immediate release:

March 2, 2017

(Toronto) The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) welcomed the measures announced today in the Ontario Fair Hydro Plan which will provide households with an average 25 per cent reduction on their electricity costs, while low-income, northern and rural households will receive an even bigger reduction.

“Access to electricity is a necessity, not a luxury,” said Zee Bhanji, LIEN Coordinator. “Ontarians should not be forced to make difficult choices about whether to keep the lights and heat on, or pay for rent, food, medicine, clothing, transportation and other basic necessities.”

Under the enhanced Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP), low-income families will benefit from a 50 per cent increase in the monthly on-bill credits. In addition, the OESP credit will be available to more households. This will make a real difference for these Ontarians struggling to pay their bills.

Energy choices are limited in rural and northern Ontario, where there is a reliance on electricity for space heating and water heating. Access to water is effectively denied when those households have their electricity disconnected since water pumps cannot work without power. The expansion of the Rural and Remote Rate Protection program (RRRP) – the funding for which was doubled by the Ontario government last month - from about 350,000 to over 800,000 consumers will bring much needed relief for those paying very high distribution rates.

On-reserve First Nations residential electricity consumers will have their delivery charge on their bills removed completely.

LIEN has been working for more than 12 years with the provincial government on putting together the components of an energy poverty strategy. The Ontario Fair Hydro Plan builds on what has been achieved to date, ensuring sustained and effective electricity service affordability for low-income and other vulnerable Ontarians.

“These measures, together with the current low-income rate mitigation programs will make a substantial difference in the lives of vulnerable Ontarians,” said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association and LIEN steering committee member.

LIEN looks forward to further assisting the government, the Ontario Energy Board and other stakeholders on the implementation of the Fair Hydro Plan, which is expected to be in place by this summer.

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For more information including interviews with a LIEN representative, please contact:
Zee Bhanji, LIEN Coordinator
416-597-5855 ext. 5167

New rules for energy retailers in 2017

On January 1, 2017, new rules come into effect regarding energy (electricity and/or natural gas) contracts and how energy retailers deal with residential and small business consumers. The rules include banning contracting with consumers at home. Many of these new rules were recommended by the OEB when it reviewed how well the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 has worked since 2011 to protect the interests of residential and small business consumers in their dealings with energy retailers.

Disconnected customers to get winter relief from Hydro One

MEDIA STATEMENT

December 7, 2016


Disconnected customers to get winter relief from Hydro One


The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) welcomes Hydro One’s announcement today that it is restoring electricity service to all of its residential customers who are currently living without power due to disconnection for bill payment arrears. Hydro One advises that they will be reaching out to each of these 1,425 customers to assist them in addressing the financial difficulties that led to their loss of service.

This new Winter Relief program is in addition to Hydro One Inc.’s voluntary policy of not disconnecting service for bill payment arrears during the winter season (i.e. usually from Dec. 1 to March 31).

LIEN is encouraged by Hydro One’s promise of a proactive and comprehensive approach to resolving payment difficulties for its vulnerable customers while continuing to provide essential electricity service, particularly for those who heat their home with electricity. Hydro One’s recognition that vulnerable, low-income customers face particular hardships and that they should be assisted rather than penalized is an important step forward in better addressing the energy needs of these Ontarians. Many low-income individuals face difficult financial pressures on a daily basis to meet their basic needs such as paying for rent, utilities, transportation, food, medicine and other necessities. This announcement from Hydro One is a positive step in supporting low-income customers who are unable to pay the rising cost of electricity in the province, as we await the cold winter months ahead.

LIEN looks forward to ongoing work with the government and Ontario utility companies on solutions to energy affordability.


For more information including interviews with a LIEN representative, please contact:
Zee Bhanji, LIEN Coordinator
416-597-5855 ext. 5167

About LIEN

The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) was formed in 2004 by anti-poverty, affordable housing and environmental groups in response to the impact of rising energy prices on low-income Ontarians. LIEN promotes programs and policies which tackle the problems of energy poverty and homelessness, reduce Ontario's contribution to smog and climate change, and promote a healthy economy through the more efficient use of energy, a transition to renewable sources of energy, education and consumer protection.

Download PDF file

 

Ontario Now Has Rules to Protect Energy Consumers from Predatory Sales Practices

 

In June 2015, the Ministry of Energy introduced Bill 112 - Strengthening Consumer Protection and Electricity System Oversight Act, 2015 in an effort to enhance the Ontario Energy Board's (OEB) mandate and organization to ensure that the OEB continues to regulate and protect consumers effectively. The OEB is an independent regulator responsible for setting for electricity and natural gas distributors, licensing market participants including electricity retailers and gas marketers, and protecting the interests of consumers.

Bill 112 also amends the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010 (ECPA) by banning the door-to-door sale of retail energy contracts and requiring all contracts to be subject to a standardized verification process.

Changes to the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2010

Prohibiting Selling or Offering to Sell at Consumer’s Homes

Starting in January 2017, a supplier or a supplier’s salesperson will be prohibited from selling or offering to sell electricity or gas to a consumer in person at their home. If a contract to sell electricity or gas is entered into, in person, at a consumer’s home, it will not be legally enforceable. This prohibition does not, however, prevent a supplier or a supplier’s salesperson from advertising or marketing to potential consumers at their home.

Restrictions on Advertising at Consumer’s Homes

Commencing in January 2017, the advertising the sale of electricity or gas will be subject to regulation. The regulations can set out rules regarding the manner, time, and circumstances under which a supplier or salesperson may advertise to a consumer at their home. If a contract is entered into as a result of a violation of these rules, it will not be legally enforceable. Certain rules have been introduced to address advertising behaviour at consumer’s homes; these can be found further below under the O. Reg. 389/10 sections.

In addition, a supplier must now withhold wages from a salesperson that advertises, sells, or offers to sell electricity or gas to a consumer in a way that violates the rules in the regulations. This includes behaviour that constitutes “unfair practices”. These can also be found further below under the O. Reg. 389/10 sections.   

All Contracts Will Be Subject to Verification Requirements

As of January 1, 2017, all contracts will be subject to the verification requirements set out in the ECPA and General, O Reg 389/10. This means a person can verify a contract for electricity or gas

  • only with the account holder
  • only over the telephone or internet, and
  • only between the 10th and 45th day after a written copy of the contract is delivered to the account holder

In addition, as of January 1, 2017, contracts must only be verified over a telephone or the internet by an individual who

  • is not employed by a party to the contract being verified
  • is not compensated by the gas or electricity supplier or on the basis of the number of contracts verified, and
  • is properly trained

Gas Marketer Pricing Requirements Now Mirror Those of Electricity Retailers

As of January 1, 2017, gas marketers will be subject to regulatory requirements when determining the price for gas. Previously, these requirements could only be set for electricity retailers. The OEB is also granted the power to determine how an electricity retailer or gas marketer determines the price set for electricity or gas. Gas marketers sell or offer to sell gas while electricity retailers sell or offer to sell electricity.

Changes to O. Reg. 389/10 (General) under the ECPA

Auto-renewal of Gas Contracts is Now Prohibited; Cancellation Fees Are Reduced or Removed

As of January 1, 2017, the auto-renewal of gas contracts will no longer be allowed, the amount that electricity retailers and gas marketers can charge consumers for the cancellation of a contract will be reduced to $50, and consumers will be allowed to cancel an electricity contract without penalty up to 30 days after receiving their second bill.

Rules for Door-to-Door Advertising

Advertising should not be confused with the sale or the offer to sell gas or electricity. While the sale or offer to sell gas or electricity at a consumer’s home is prohibited, the advertising of the sale of gas or electricity is not. Advertising is, however, subject to regulation.

As of January 1, 2017, a supplier or salesperson will no longer be allowed to

  • provide consumers with a gift card or incentive for future redemption following entry into an energy contract
  • leave a contract with a consumer at their door
  • conduct unsolicited door-to-door advertising except during specified days and times
  • conduct unsolicited door-to-door advertising if there is a posted sign prohibiting the activity
  • make more than one unsolicited visit to a consumer's home in a 30-day period except for the purposes of contract verification

Repayment of a Gift Card is an Unfair Practice

A consumer may cancel a contract at any time if the supplier engages in what is called an unfair practice listed under the regulations. As of January 1, 2017, the requirement by a supplier for an energy consumer to return or repay a gift card at any time, including upon the cancellation of a contract by the consumer, will be included as an unfair practice.

Sales Commission No Longer Based on the Volume of Sales

As of January 1, 2017, all sales agents will be prohibited from earning a commission based on the volume of sales.

Changes to Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998

Increase in Maximum Administrative Penalty for Offences

The maximum penalty for contravening the Ontario Energy Board Act (OEBA) has been increased. While the penalty cannot exceed the amount a person would have to pay if it were an ‘offence’ under the OEBA, the OEB is able to increase an administrative penalty to equal the amount gained from the violation.

Education of Consumers is an OEBA Objective

The OEBA has a new objective - to promote the education of consumers. This means that while carrying out its responsibilities, the OEB must now be guided by the objective of promoting the education of consumers in addition to its current objective of protecting the interests of consumers with respect to prices and the adequacy, reliability, and quality of electricity services.

Consumer Representation at the OEB

The OEB must now establish processes by which the interests of consumers can be represented in proceedings before the OEB. The OEB is currently in the process of reviewing its intervenor participation process. These amendments would allow the OEB to implement any changes that arise from its review.

 

The Impact of Differential Distribution Rates on Rural Residential Electricity Consumers

The OEB issued a new rate design policy on April 2, 2015, that changes the way Hydro One and other local electricity distributors bill residential customers. Currently, distribution rates are a combination of a fixed monthly charge and a usage charge. Under the new policy, all the costs for residential distribution services will be collected through a fixed monthly charge.

CELA Recommends Significant Changes to the Long-Term Energy Plan In Light of the Climate Change Action Plan

The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), a member of LIEN's steering committee, and Greenpeace Canada recommend the Province make significant changes to the scope, focus, flexibility, and values of the next Long-Term Energy Plan (LTEP) if it hopes to successfully implement the Climate Change Action Plan.

News Categories

Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN)
c/o Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
1500 - 55 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, M5J 2H7
Phone: 416-597-5855 ext. 5167
Toll-free: 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5167
Fax: 416-597-5821
Email: info@lowincomeenergy.ca