News & Events

LIEN webinars on Ontario's Low-Income Energy Assistance Program

The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) is pleased to present a two-part webinar series on the Ontario Energy Board's (OEB) Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), which has been rolling out in stages this year. LEAP was established as a result of the OEB's consultation on low-income energy consumer issues in which LIEN actively participated.

LEAP has three components:
- Emergency financial assistance (rolled out in January 1, 2011)
- More flexible customer service rules for low-income consumers (came into force on October 1, 2011)
- Targeted energy conservation programs offered by gas and electric utilities (staggered rollout)

The webinar presentations will be given by staff at the Ontario Energy Board, Ontario Power Authority, Enbridge Gas, Union Gas and LIEN.

Space is limited so please register today!  

Webinar 1: Thursday, November 10, from noon - 1pm
- LIEN's energy poverty strategy
- LEAP emergency financial assistance, new customer service rules, compliance & enforcement issues
Presenters: Zee Bhanji/Mary Todorow, Lenore Dougan, Donna Kinapen
Facilitator: Barb De Ruyter

* Registration for webinar 1:

UPDATE: For the audio recording and presentation slides, please go to:  

Webinar 2: Tuesday, November 15, from noon - 1pm
- LIEN's energy poverty strategy
- OPA low-income conservation programs
- Gas utilities' low-income conservation programs
Presenters: Zee Bhanji/Mary Todorow, Nicole Hynum, Erika Lontoc, Tracey Brooks
Facilitator: Barb De Ruyter

* Registration for webinar 2:

UPDATE: For the audio recording and presentation slides, please go to:


LIEN open letter to the Premier re: Ontario Energy Board decision to deny approval for Toronto Hydro conservation programs

July 26, 2011


The Honourable Dalton McGuinty,
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1

Dear Premier,

RE: OEB decision to deny approval for Toronto Hydro energy conservation programs

I am writing on behalf of the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) to share our serious concerns about the pullback on funding for energy efficiency and conservation programs in Ontario.

Low-income energy conservation programs play a vital role in assisting vulnerable consumers to lower their energy bills, maintain healthier and more affordable housing, and therefore reduce the risk of homelessness. These programs enable low-income consumers to participate in the "Culture of Conservation" to reduce energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to climate change.

Recent decisions by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) have forced both electricity and natural gas distributors to restrict cost-effective conservation programs they offer to consumers. This is a great setback for consumers and the environment. It was also surprising since, in a Directive issued on July 5, 2010, the Minister of Energy urged the OEB (and the Ontario Power Authority) to take on an expanded policy-making role in conservation and consider increasing current conservation budgets for natural gas and electric utilities.

Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller also criticized the OEB for putting up barriers to increased energy conservation in his Annual Energy Conservation Progress Report - 2010 (Volume One), Managing a Complex Energy System, released last month. Miller says that the OEB has established rules that could hinder the Conservation and Demand Management (CDM) programs offered by the province's electricity utilities. "The OEB has given utilities all of the responsibility but none of the freedom to modify or improve programs if necessary."

Energy conservation is cheaper and more environmentally sound than building new power generation facilities. LIEN encourages the Premier and all Parties, as part of their election platforms, to commit to strong and robust low-income energy conservation programs in which vulnerable Ontarians can participate. Furthermore, we urge your government to issue a strong, clear Directive to the OEB, instructing them to approve all cost-effective energy conservation and efficiency programs that are proposed by local distribution companies. If legislative changes are necessary to ensure compliance with this Directive, we also urge you to make them.

We appreciate your urgent attention to this matter.

Per: Low-Income Energy Network

Original signed by

Zee Bhanji
LIEN Coordinator

cc: Rosemarie Leclair, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Energy Board
Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Energy
Mike Schreiner, Leader, Green Party of Ontario
Andrea Horwath, Leader, Ontario New Democratic Party
Tim Hudak, Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
LIEN member organizations

LIEN annual conference 2011 - Toronto

"Working in Harmony on Ontario's Low-Income Energy Future"

Date: Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: Harbourfront Community Centre, Dance Studio, 627 Queens Quay West

Conference kit

Agenda for LIEN 2011 conference

LIEN_energy poverty manual_

2009 Ont stats on appliances by income quintile 
2009 Ontario stats on heating equipment 
List of participants 
Speaker biographies
Breakout session questions 
Evaluation form 

The OEB's LEAP program - Takis Plagiannakos 
Low-Income Energy Conservation and Efficiency: An Update from the OPA - Andrew Pride 
The impact of suite metering on low-income consumers - Mary Todorow 
Customer service code amendments for low-income consumers - Jennifer Lopinski 
Enbridge Gas low-income programs - Bill Chihata 
Union Gas low-income programs - Tracey Brooks

OEB improvements to electricity customer service rules will help keep lights on for low-income people

For immediate release:

Friday, April 1, 2011

(Toronto) The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) welcomes the long-awaited release of the Ontario Energy Board's (OEB) customer service rules that are specifically designed to help financially-strapped low-income households maintain their residential electricity service.

The rules released this week are part of the OEB's Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) - a comprehensive plan consisting of: emergency relief for consumers in short-term payment crisis; targeted energy conservation and demand management programs to reduce energy consumption and costs, and the new flexible rules on matters such as security deposit and fee waivers, arrears payment plans and disconnection notice periods.

"This is good news for low-income consumers who struggle to pay for rent, food, transportation and their basic energy needs," said Jennifer Lopinski, LIEN steering committee member and the Emergency Home Energy program administrator with A Place Called Home in the Municipality of Kawartha Lakes. "When attempting to resolve their electricity arrears, low-income consumers will have real options to reduce financial hardship. We're also pleased that the OEB is consulting on implementing similar conditions of service rules for low-income natural gas customers."

LIEN actively participated in the OEB's proceeding which was initiated three years ago to develop the new customer service rules, and continues to advocate for the establishment of a permanent energy rate affordability program for low-income consumers that would proactively prevent households from falling into arrears.

The new low-income customer service rules will come into effect on October 1, 2011. For more details about the rules and eligibility, please see the OEB backgrounder at:


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

2011 LIEN annual conference - mark your calendar!

LIEN will be holding its annual conference on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 at the Harbourfront Community Centre in Toronto, from 9am to 4pm. More information, including registration details, to follow in the coming weeks via email and on the LIEN website.

LIEN regional workshop - Kingston 2010

LIEN regional workshop in Kingston on Wednesday, November 10, 2010

LIEN is focusing on building the capacity of its network members and other organizations to become "experts" or "resource people" on low-income energy issues in their communities. To facilitate this, LIEN is in the process of developing an Energy Poverty Training Manual/Toolkit.

This FREE workshop offers great networking opportunities, activities, and an opportunity to provide feedback on LIEN's draft manual.

The LIEN workshop will be facilitated by Barb De Ruyter and hosted by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.

Who is this workshop for?

Workshop participants may come from a wide range of experience and organizations. Ideally they will include:

  • Staff or community members who are well-positioned to train others in using the toolkit and who also want to be better able to assist low-income consumers in their own communities
  • Individuals who are actively involved in energy awareness and conservation campaigns and want to explore certain topics in greater depth

The workshop and subsequent manual will enable you to:

  • Provide up-to-date and targeted advice on energy poverty to low-income households, groups and agencies across Ontario in order to raise awareness
  • Provide energy efficiency advice and conservation tips to encourage the reduction in energy consumption (and therefore a reduction in energy bills)
  • Support groups and agencies that provide advice to low-income energy consumers so as to ensure maximum take-up of available programs

Date: Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (lunch will be provided)
Location: 1200 Princess Street, Sisters of Providence Motherhouse, Kingston

For more information, contact the LIEN Coordinator:

Call toll free: 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5167

LIEN webinar 2010

The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) invites you to participate in a webinar hosted by CLEONet on Wednesday, October 20 from 1.00 p.m. - 2.30 p.m.

LIEN is focusing on building the capacity of its network members and other organizations to become "experts" or "resource people" on low-income energy issues in their communities. To facilitate this, LIEN is in the process of developing an Energy Poverty Training Manual/Toolkit.

The aim of the webinar will be to:
1. Introduce key concepts of the manual so as to enable us to develop a draft based on feedback
2. Enable participants to highlight issues relevant to their organizations or communities so that they are reflected in the manual

Space is limited so register now! For further details, including registration, please visit

LIEN Currents, Summer 2010 issue

LIEN currents - Summer 2010 issue

Energy Minister gives "green" light to low-income energy programs

For immediate release:                                                     July 6, 2010

(Toronto)The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) is pleased that Energy and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid issued a letter yesterday to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), requesting it to resume work on a province-wide strategy to help low-income consumers reduce their energy consumption and costs. The Minister also sent a companion letter to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), directing it to roll out an electricity conservation and demand management program targeted specifically to low-income consumers.

"This is good news for low-income consumers who have been waiting too long for a solution to energy poverty. They do not have the resources to pay for energy-savings retrofits, and are seriously challenged in meeting their basic energy needs, including healthy home temperatures during dangerously hot summer days and freezing winter nights," said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), a LIEN steering committee member.  "We're also pleased that the OEB and OPA have been asked to coordinate on the delivery of the conservation programs by gas and electricity distributors."

The OEB was planning to move forward with new support programs under their Low-Income Energy Program (LEAP) initiative by early 2010, but put those plans on hold last September pending expected ministerial direction.  LEAP had three components: more flexible customer service rules, emergency financial assistance, and conservation.  LIEN participated in the two LEAP implementation working groups and anticipates that the OEB will build on the guiding principles developed for effective programs.   

"The need for an adequately funded emergency energy assistance program is critical to avoid homelessness for vulnerable households facing short-term financial crises", said Jennifer Lopinski, LIEN steering committee member and the Emergency Home Energy program administrator with A Place Called Home in the Municipality of Kawartha Lakes.  "It's encouraging that the Energy Minister has asked the OEB to consider increasing the original funding allocation for the assistance program previously announced under LEAP."  

The new programs are expected to be in place by January 2011, but LIEN believes some protections, such as improved customer service rules and emergency assistance for the upcoming heating season, should be implemented earlier.   


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

LIEN Annual Conference 2010 - Toronto

"Forging Ahead: Shaping Ontario's Low-Income Energy Future"

Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Location: Thomas Lounge, Oakham House, 63 Gould Street

Conference kit

LIEN 2-pager
Closing the gaps
Info sheet on low-income energy efficiency/conservation programs
Info sheet on low-income energy assistance programs
Breakout session questions
Evaluation Form


Keynote address - Bruce Pearce (Vice Chair, GCC; Vice President, CHRA)

Reports from the regulatory frontlines - Paul Manning (Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers)

Out of the Red: financial emergency energy assistance - Jennifer Lopinski (APCH), Debra Johnston (Salvation Army Centre of Hope)

Into the Green:energy conservation and efficiency in low-income housing [part 1] - Theresa McClenaghan (CELA)

Into the Green:energy conservation and efficiency in low-income housing [part 2] - Bridget Doherty (Sisters of Providence)

Protecting Low-Income Energy Consumers - Mary Todorow (ACTO)

CPCHE/CELA Healthy Retrofits Project - Erica Phipps

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