News & Events

$900 Million from Ontario's Cap and Trade Program to Help with Energy Retrofits and Energy Efficiency


$900 Million from Cap and Trade Program to Help Social Housing with Energy Retrofits and Residential Multi-tenant Buildings with Energy Efficiency Improvements

While Ontario will not begin auctioning greenhouse gas allowances under the new Cap and Trade program until 2017, the Province has committed close to $1 billion of the possible proceeds under the program to redress the burden borne by low-income households and vulnerable communities in mitigating climate change.

On May 25, Ontario announced funding of $900 million over four years for social housing energy retrofits and the improvement of energy efficiency in private residential apartments.  The announcement follows an earlier commitment of $92 million made on February 12.[1]  The initial $92 million will be sourced from the Green Investment Fund,[2] while the additional $900 million will come from proceeds of the Cap and Trade program Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account.  The increased funding came on the heels of the Climate Change and Low-Carbon Economy Act, 2016 (Climate Change Act) receiving Royal Assent on May 19.[3] 

The $92 million commitment came prior to Bill-172 being scrutinised, amended, and enacted as the Climate Change Act.  The amendments introduced requirements to consider the impact the regulatory regime would have on low-income households and vulnerable communities, especially with respect to the Climate Change Action Plan and funding initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The amendments also mandate a public report on how well initiatives that are funded fit with the requirement to consider the interests of low-income households and vulnerable communities.  The submissions and debates that led to the introduction of new provisions under the Climate Change Act illustrated that the support provided by the initial $92 million, though welcome, would be inadequate to address the impact of the cap and trade program on low-income households and vulnerable communities. 

Without the amendments to Bill 172, the Climate Change Act would have contained provisions ameliorating the concerns of trade-exposed industries[4] but remained silent on low-income households and vulnerable communities.  The amendments that oriented the Climate Change Act towards the interests of low-income households and vulnerable communities were introduced, in no small part, because of the advocacy of organizations such as the members of the Low-income Energy Network (LIEN) including the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC), the members of the Clean Economy Alliance (CEA), the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), the Housing Services Corporation, and a number of other public interest organisations.

Of the $900 million, $500 million is earmarked for the retrofit of social housing apartments with energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and up to $400 million will be held as part of an incentive program that will offer rebates or grants for the utilisation of energy-efficient technologies in multi-residential rental buildings.  The province has also promised to look into making it illegal to pass these costs onto tenants.

Even though Bill 172 did not specify a minimum percentage of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account to be directed to low-income Ontarians, LIEN is encouraged by the steps that have been taken to date to assuage the disproportionate impact of carbon pricing on low-income households and vulnerable communities during Ontario’s transition to a carbon free economy. This policy alone, however, will not be enough to effectively mitigate the impact of cap and trade on all low-income households and vulnerable communities, other policies and commitments will be needed. It is imperative that the Province continue to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society are treated equitably when policies of significant impact are being formulated and implemented.  

LIEN looks forward to working with the provincial government as the Climate Change Action Plan is implemented and the Minister makes recommendations to the treasury board for the expenditure of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Account under the Climate Change Act.

A few submissions on Bill-172 can be found here: CELA #1 #2, ISAC, CEA, RNAO



[1] The initial investment of $92 million is hoped will help lower GHG emissions by about 3,600 tonnes over a 20-year period and create approximately 1,650 jobs. The first $82 million will go toward energy retrofits for high-rise social housing towers of 150 units or more. At an estimated average cost of $3.5 - $5.5 million for each high-rise, the funding would help between 16 and 23 buildings. The final $10 million will go towards improving electricity efficiency in approximately 1,300 single social housing homes often found in smaller communities.

[2] A $325 million down payment on the newly passed Cap and Trade program.

[3] The impression of a number organisations on the initial allocation of $92 million For energy retrofits can be found here.

[4] Industries that generate significant greenhouse gas emissions whose competitors may face lower costs in jurisdictions that do not have carbon pricing.

Conference Materials for 2016 LIEN annual conference - Toronto

"Meeting the challenges of energy affordability"

Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Time: 9:00 AM - 3:30 PM
Location: 63 Gould Street, Toronto, Oakham House, Ryerson University, Thomas Lounge

CONFERENCE MATERIALS


Conference kit

Final Agenda for LIEN 2016 conference

Description of LIEN and its work - 2016

Acronyms 2016

Speaker biographies 2016

List of participants 2016

Evaluation Form 2016

 

Presentations

LIEN advocacy update: Mary Todorow (Advocacy Centre for TenantsOntario/LIEN)

LEAP Energy Financial Assistance and new Ontario Electricity Support Program: Donna Kinapen (Ontario Energy Board)

Social service agency perspective on the OESP: Mary Ann Proulx (Citizens for Affordable Housing, York Region), Maria Sowka (COSTI Immigrant Services)

Ontario Climate Policy through a Climate Justice Lens: Barbora Grochalova (Canadian Environmental Law Association)

2016 saveONenergy HOME ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (HAP) update: Katie Fotheringham (Independent Electricity System Operator)

2016 Low Income Energy Efficiency Program Offerings: Erika Lontoc & Jennifer Cittadini (Enbridge Gas Distribution)

Union Gas Low Income Program Overview: Margaret Nuttall (Union Gas Limited)

Low Income Conservation Programs - a market perspective: Tom Wynn (GreenSaver)

 

Register now for the 2016 LIEN annual conference!

Conference Materials for 2015 LIEN annual conference - Toronto

"Closing the Gap on Energy Affordability"

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: Harbourfront Community Centre, Dance Studio, 627 Queens Quay West (corner Bathurst St), Toronto


CONFERENCE MATERIALS


Conference kit

Final Agenda for LIEN 2015 conference

Description of LIEN and its work - 2015

Acronyms 2015

Speaker biographies 2015

List of participants 2015

Evaluation Form 2015


Presentations

LIEN’s journey to completing its energy poverty strategy: Mary Todorow (Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario/LIEN) & Roger Colton (Fisher Sheehan & Colton)

Discussing the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) & the new Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP): Brian Hewson (Ontario Energy Board)

Ensuring a holistic approach to Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA) delivery: Gladys Wong (Neighbourhood Information Post/LIEN) & Jennifer Lopinski (A Place Called Home/LIEN)

Panel discussion on integrated delivery of utility low-income conservation programs across the province:  Katie Fotheringham (IESO), Mike Mulqueen (Toronto Hydro), Erika Lontoc & Jennifer Cittadini (Enbridge Gas Distribution), Margaret Nuttall (Union Gas Limited)

Advocates working to reduce energy poverty in Ontario welcome new electricity bill affordability program for low-income consumers

For immediate release:

March 26, 2015

 

(Toronto) The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) welcomed Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli's announcement today that the provincial government is moving forward to establish an Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) for eligible low-income consumers to be in place by January 1, 2016.

A home energy rate affordability program has been a key component of LIEN's proposal for a comprehensive energy poverty strategy since its inception over ten years ago. Many of the essential components of that strategy have since been introduced by the Ontario Energy Board in their Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and by the provincial government. These include:

  • energy conservation/efficiency programs at no-cost to low-income participants,
  • specific low-income customer service rules such as extended arrears repayment terms, and
  • emergency energy assistance to help low-income households in financial crisis.

All of these measures have been significant improvements to alleviate the energy burden on low- income households. Now, with the introduction of the OESP, the last key plank in a complete energy poverty strategy has been installed.

"Reduction in energy consumption can make bills more affordable, but those households with the lowest incomes still struggle to pay for home energy costs alongside other basic needs such as rent, food, transportation and medications", said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), one of LIEN's founding members. "LIEN looks forward to working on the implementation of the OESP, and on Phase Two of the program which will include additional financial assistance for those who heat their homes with electricity."

"The OESP will help prevent vulnerable households from falling into arrears and defaulting on their electricity bill payments," said Jennifer Lopinski, LIEN steering committee member and LEAP Intake Worker for Hydro One & Enbridge Gas at A Place Called Home in the City of Kawartha Lakes. "This rate affordability program will complement the still-needed emergency assistance program for those low-income consumers who face short-term financial hardship."

LIEN is a network of anti-poverty, affordable housing, environmental and social justice organizations that works to address the needs of Ontario's low-income households by ensuring the implementation of effective energy assistance and conservation programs and policies.

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For further information:
Zee Bhanji, LIEN Coordinator
416-597-5855 ext. 5167
www.lowincomeenergy.ca

 

Additional materials:
LIEN media release

Ontario Minister of Energy news release

OESP backgrounder

OEB report to the Energy Minister re OESP

 

Register now for the 2015 LIEN annual conference!

Registration is now open for the LIEN annual conference, "Closing the Gap on Energy Affordability".


Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: Harbourfront Community Centre, Dance Studio, 627 Queens Quay West (corner Bathurst St), Toronto


What:
A gathering for social service agencies, low-income and affordable housing advocates, environmental organizations, anti-poverty groups, community legal clinics, and representatives from government agencies and utility companies, to share information on low-income energy issues such as:


• The establishment of an electricity affordability program for low-income Ontarians
• Evaluating and improving the Ontario Energy Board's Low-Income Energy Assistance Program
• Reducing bills and pollution through energy conservation programs for low-income consumers
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 April 9, 2015.

DRAFT AGENDA

Registration is now closed.

Advocacy group applauds Energy Minister's proactive move to help vulnerable consumers pay their bills

For immediate release:

April 24, 2014

(Toronto)The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) commends the government's commitment to ensuring ongoing affordability of electricity bills for Ontario's low-income households. The Ontario Electricity Support Program, which was announced by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli today, is an important component of a comprehensive approach to reducing energy poverty in Ontario - for which LIEN has been advocating since 2004.

"We are pleased that Minister Chiarelli has directed the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to develop an electricity rate affordability program which will help low-income consumers pay for their essential electricity service and other basic needs such as rent, food, transportation and medications," said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), one of LIEN's founding members. "We look forward to participating in the OEB's consultation hearings to provide input into the program's design."

The Ontario Electricity Support Program will build on the OEB's Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and is scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2016.

LEAP has been in place since 2011 and has three components: more flexible customer service rules on matters such as arrears payment plans and disconnection notice periods; emergency energy assistance, and energy conservation programs targeted specifically to low-income consumers.

LIEN is a network of anti-poverty, affordable housing, environmental and social justice organizations that works to address the needs of Ontario's low-income households by ensuring the implementation of effective energy assistance and conservation programs and policies.

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For further information:
Zee Bhanji
LIEN Coordinator
416-597-5855 ext. 5167
www.lowincomeenergy.ca

LIEN annual conference 2014 - Toronto

"Celebrating a Decade of Low-Income Energy Advocacy"

Date: Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Location: Harbourfront Community Centre, Dance Studio, 627 Queens Quay West (corner Bathurst St), Toronto

CONFERENCE MATERIALS

Conference kit

Final Agenda for LIEN 2014 conference

Description of LIEN and its work - 2014

Acronyms 2014

Speaker biographies 2014

List of participants 2014

Evaluation Form 2014

Presentations

Addressing energy poverty in Ontario - LIEN's decade of advocacy - Mary Todorow (ACTO) & Theresa McClenaghan (CELA)

OPA saveONenergy Home Assistance Program - Jen Atkinson (Windfall Centre) & Kai Millyard (GCC)

Enbridge Gas low-income programs - Erika Lontoc & Jennifer Cittadini

Union Gas low-income programs - Priyanka Gupta

Review of the OEB's low-income programs - Jennifer Lopinski (APCH)

Who's Doing What - Changes to energy assistance programs and why it matters - Jennefer Laidley (ISAC)

Time for Energy Rate Affordability Program in Ontario

For immediate release:
March 25, 2014

(Toronto) As the Low-Income Energy Network celebrates its 10th anniversary today at its annual symposium, the top line message from the conference is the need for an energy rate affordability program in Ontario.

LIEN has been advocating a comprehensive solution to energy poverty in Ontario over the last ten years. From emergency energy assistance, to low-income energy conservation programs, to better terms of service for low-income consumers, there has been great progress in the province. But the missing link is an Energy Rate Affordability Program to make sure that electricity bills are within reach for low income consumers. LIEN advocates a province wide program that sets a threshold of 6% of total household income as the maximum amount that low-income consumers should have to pay for their total energy bills - for heating and non-heating energy uses. Above that threshold, difficult choices have to be made between food, rent, electricity, medication and other essentials.

The work LIEN has done demonstrates that low-income energy affordability programs are good for utilities and their ratepayers too, because bills become much more manageable for the lowest income consumers.

Today, LIEN has sent a letter to all of Ontario's provincial party leaders, urging them to support a low income energy rate affordability program for Ontario.
Letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne
Letter to Hon. Tim Hudak
Letter to Hon. Andrea Horwath
Letter to Mike Schreiner  

 

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For further information, please contact:

Theresa McClenaghan
Executive Director & Counsel
Canadian Environmental Law Association
Cell: 416.662.8341
E-mail: theresa@cela.ca

Zee Bhanji
Coordinator
Low-Income Energy Network
Tel: 416.597.5855 ext. 5167
E-mail: bhanjiz@lao.on.ca

Mary Todorow
Policy Analyst
Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario
Tel: 416-597-5855 ext. 5173
E-mail: todorom@lao.on.ca

Download PDF file

Register now for the 2014 LIEN annual conference!

Registration is now open for the LIEN annual conference, "Celebrating a Decade of Low-Income Energy Advocacy".

Date: Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: Harbourfront Community Centre, Dance Studio, 627 Queens Quay West (corner Bathurst St), Toronto

What:
A gathering for social service agencies, low-income and affordable housing advocates, environmental organizations, anti-poverty groups, community legal clinics, and representatives from government agencies and utility companies, to celebrate our successes in the past 10 years and plan for future action on low-income energy issues such as:

  • Rising electricity prices and the establishment of a low-income rate affordability program
  • Evaluating and improving the Ontario Energy Board's Low-Income Energy Assistance Program
  • Reducing bills and pollution through energy conservation programs for low-income consumers

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 March 18, 2014.

Draft agenda for LIEN 2014 conference

Registration is now closed.

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