News & Events

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.

Long-Term Energy Plan a positive move, but affordable energy rate program needed to protect the vulnerable

For immediate release:

December 3, 2013

(Toronto)The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) strongly supports the government's commitment to energy conservation and renewable energy in the updated Long-Term Energy Plan which was unveiled by Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli yesterday.

"Conservation and efficiency is the fastest and easiest way to meet our energy needs, and cheaper than building new generation. It also reduces our environmental impact, including greenhouse gas emissions," noted Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association, a founding member of LIEN. "We welcome the government's effort to develop a culture of conservation, and trust that low-income consumers will have equal opportunities to participate."

While the announcement of on-bill financing for energy efficiency retrofits in the new plan is encouraging news for homeowners wishing to undertake renovations, special considerations must be made to ensure that low-income consumers are protected from disconnection in the event that they default on their utility bill.

Despite aggressive conservation, electricity rates are expected to rise. This is especially troubling for low-income consumers who are vulnerable to increases in shelter and utility costs and will be forced to make difficult choices between heating, eating and paying the rent.

"What is required is a long-term, proactive solution that will help keep the lights on for low-income households in the province," said Zee Bhanji, Coordinator of LIEN. "We have been advocating for a permanent, province-wide low-income electricity rate assistance program since 2006."

The Ontario government has shown leadership in greening the electricity system and spurring a healthy renewable energy sector. We hope they continue this leadership by ensuring that progress is made on establishing a rate affordability program targeted 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 2013 - Toronto

Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 
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 2013 LIEN annual conference

Description of LIEN and its work

Acronyms

Speaker biographies

List of Participants

Evaluation Form

Presentations

Keynote address - Rosemarie T Leclair, OEB

LIEN advocacy activities update - Mary Todorow

Proposal for a low-income energy affordability program - Roger Colton

Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) - Rachel Anderson, OEB

Climate change and low-income communities - Theresa McClenaghan, CELA

OPA saveONenergy Home Assistance Program - Lenard Hart, GreenSaver

Enbridge Gas low-income progrmas - Jennifer Cittadini

Union Gas low-income programs - Julia Hummel

Toronto's Tower Renewal Initiative - Aderonke Akande

Register now for the 2013 LIEN annual conference!

Registration is now open for the LIEN annual conference, "Navigating Ontario's New Low-Income Energy Landscape".

Final Agenda for 2013 LIEN annual conference

Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2013
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:

  • Rising energy prices and the need for a low-income rate affordability program
  • Addressing energy affordability within the context of the Ontario Energy Board's Low-Income Energy Assistance Program
  • Reducing bills and pollution through energy conservation programs for low-income consumers

There will also be a special keynote address from the Chair of the Ontario Energy Board, Ms. Rosemarie T. Leclair.

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 20, 2013.

Registration is now closed.

LIEN webinar: Exploring an Electricity Rate Affordability Program for Ontario's Low-Income Consumers

When: Thursday, February 21, 2013 from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Where: Online (webinar)

What: With electricity bills projected to increase by 46% from 2010-2015, low-income residential consumers in Ontario (about 733,000 households) may face housing affordability problems and could be forced to make difficult spending decisions such as paying for heat or food. To proactively address this looming crisis, the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) is working with a consultant Roger Colton, a U.S. based expert on low-income energy issues, to develop a ratepayer-funded electricity rate affordability program along with a cost estimate for delivering it to Ontario's low-income consumers. LIEN has renewed its efforts to advocate for such a program and is working to build public awareness about, and support for, this proposal. The webinar will begin with an overview of LIEN's advocacy activities and culminate with a detailed presentation of the electricity rate affordability program.

Who: Presentations by Roger Colton, Mary Todorow, Zee Bhanji

How:  https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/s/registrations/new?cid=56izkd9ql46m OR http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/webinar/86159

Space is limited so register today!

UPDATE: For the audio recording and presentation slides, please go to: http://yourlegalrights.on.ca/webinar/86159

LIEN Currents, Winter 2013 issue

LIEN currents - Winter 2013

LIEN Energy Poverty Toolkit

The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) has designed an energy poverty toolkit. Inside the manual you will find:

  • a backgrounder on energy poverty that outlines the problem
  • a summary of existing low-income energy programs in the province and the current landscape
  • a list of barriers and common issues facing low-income energy consumers
  • examples of how to work locally to end energy poverty in your community
  • tips for dealing with your local media, including a sample opinion piece that can be tailored
  • helpful conservation tips
  • other resources, such as statistics

LIEN's energy poverty toolkit is intended to be a "living document" which will continue to be altered, amended and updated by either a limited or unrestricted group. This is to ensure that it is both relevant and current. We will continue to update the toolkit and we invite you to provide feedback and share your own ideas and resources so that all community members can benefit from your knowledge and experience. Comments as to how it might be improved or additional material added would therefore be welcomed.

Click to open document:

LIEN energy poverty toolkit (updated January 2013)

Disclaimer: Much of the information contained in the toolkit is a compilation of existing resources (e.g. Ontario Energy Board website). However, it has been developed and arranged in a manner that should facilitate easy use. The reader is encouraged to follow web links to other documents in order to obtain additional information about specific areas.

LIEN Currents, Fall 2012 issue

LIEN currents - Fall 2012 issue

LEAP Emergency Financial Assistance Manual for 2012

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has posted an updated LEAP Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA) Manual for 2012, which includes an updated Income Eligibility Chart.   The updated LEAP EFA Program Manual is effective starting September 19, 2012.

LEAP manual

The OEB has also posted the results of the LEAP EFA and Winter Warmth programs reported by electricity and natural gas distributors for 2011.

Results of the LEAP EFA and WW programs

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