(Toronto) - Today, the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) announced it will not be giving up the fight for fair energy prices for low-income consumers in Ontario, despite a recent decision by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) that thwarted the group's efforts. LIEN served notice of its appeal to Divisional Court of the Ontario Energy Board's (OEB) decision issued April 26, 2007 that it does not have the jurisdiction to implement rate affordability programs for low-income residential consumers. There was a very strong dissenting decision in this matter by Gordon Kaiser, Chair of the three-member Board panel, who found that the OEB does have the "jurisdiction to approve special rates for low-income consumers in appropriate cases."
"If LIEN does not appeal this decision, the OEB will continue to fix rates without assessing whether they are affordable to low-income consumers," says Paul Manning, a lawyer with Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP who argued LIEN's case for a rate affordability program at the Board.
"We need a permanent rate assistance program in place for Ontario's low-income consumers who are vulnerable to increases in shelter and utility costs and may be forced to make difficult choices between heating, eating and paying for their housing," says Mary Truemner, a member of the LIEN steering committee and Staff Lawyer for the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO).
LIEN has also asked Ontario's Energy Minister to issue a directive to the OEB to hold a generic hearing on the impact of energy prices on low-income and vulnerable consumers. LIEN wants the OEB at such a generic hearing to consider and implement solutions including low-income rate assistance. The Quebec government issued a similar directive in August 2006 to the Régie de l'énergie (Quebec's OEB equivalent).
For more information:
Mary Truemner, Staff Lawyer, ACTO
416-597-5855 x 5163