News & Events

Green Energy Act holds promise of affordable utility bills for poor - but conservation measures must be coupled with rate assistance

(Toronto) The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) is encouraged by provisions in the proposed Green Energy Act (GEA) that could fund conservation programs targeted to low-income Ontarians to help reduce their household energy use and bills.  Such programs can ensure that our most financially disadvantaged citizens will not be left behind as Ontario develops a robust conservation culture.

The province's poorest households, struggling to pay for their housing, food, transportation, medicine and other basic necessities, simply do not have the money to invest in effective measures for deep energy savings, such as weatherization, insulation, and energy efficient heating equipment and appliances.  Low-income tenants face additional barriers to conserving energy since they depend on landlords taking initiatives to retrofit their buildings, for example, by replacing old fridges with energy efficient models.

"We anticipate that the Green Energy Act can make real progress on conservation programs targeted to low-income consumers.  Programs to date have been limited to pilots, involved short-term funding commitments or have focused on less extensive measures such as low-flow showerheads, aerators, pipe wrap, programmable thermostats and CFL bulbs," said Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) and a LIEN steering committee member. "Reduction in energy consumption can make bills more affordable. However, for significant impact for low-income consumers and the environment, we need permanent, adequately funded, fuel-neutral programs with a wide suite of measures available province-wide that are tailored to homeowners, tenants in private rental housing and tenants in social housing."

"Equitable access to energy conservation programs is the foundation of our comprehensive strategy to reduce energy poverty in Ontario," said Zee Bhanji, LIEN's Coordinator, "But conservation programs alone are not the solution to affordable energy for low-income consumers. They must be offered in tandem with a low-income energy rate assistance program."

LIEN is participating in the Ontario Energy Board's current consultation on issues affecting low-income consumers and recommending that the Board establish a ratepayer-funded energy affordability program.

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For further information:
Zee Bhanji, Low-Income Energy Network
416-597-5855 ext. 5167

LIEN Currents, September/October 2008 issue

September/October 2008 issue

LIEN regional workshop - Windsor

SAVING ENERGY: A TENANT ACTION WORKSHOP

This free workshop offers great networking opportunities, activities, and an inside peek at how tenants can take the lead to save energy, money, and make their neighbourhoods a better place to live! The workshop is led by Toronto Environmental Alliance, supported by LIEN, and hosted by hosted by Homeless Coalition Windsor-Essex.

What to expect

  • Get inspired by real-life examples of how tenants have successfully run their own energy conservation programs.
  • Learn step-by-step how you could kick-start your own energy conservation program.
  • Collect ideas, advice, tools, and resources to help you along the way.
  • Participate in breakout sessions and activities.
  • Relate what you've been learning to your own   neighbourhood.
  • Network with fellow tenant advocates and activists.

Date: Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Location: College Avenue Community Centre, 3325 College Avenue, Windsor

Register Now!
Option 1: Fill in the online registration form: www.torontoenvironment.org/workshops
Option 2: Email or fax the registration form to the LIEN Coordinator.

Contact information for LIEN Coordinator
Call toll free: 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5167
Email: bhanjiz@lao.on.ca
Fax: 1-416-597-5821

Ontario Energy Board stakeholder consultation on low-income energy issues

Due in part to the May 16th decision in LIEN's Divisional Court appeal that found the OEB does have jurisdiction to implement rate affordability programs for low-income residential consumers, the Board announced on July 2nd that it was starting a consultation process to examine energy issues associated with low-income consumers, such as rate assistance, arrears management, disconnection procedures, emergency assistance, service charges (i.e. late payment fees, reconnection charges), and low-income conservation and demand management programs. Despite the Divisional Court appeal decision, however, the Board still has not decided about whether or how they should exercise their jurisdiction to consider the ability to pay when setting utility rates.

From September 22nd - 25th, LIEN attended the OEB Consultation on Energy Issues Relating to Low-Income Consumers. The consultation provided an opportunity for interested stakeholder to make presentations on low-income energy issues relating to rate assistance, arrears management, disconnection procedures, emergency assistance, service charges (i.e. late payment fees, reconnection charges), and low-income conservation and demand management programs.

Click on the link to view the LIEN presentation at the OEB.

LIEN regional workshop - Ottawa

SAVING ENERGY: A TENANT ACTION WORKSHOP

This free workshop offers great networking opportunities, activities, and an inside peek at how tenants can take the lead to save energy, money, and make their neighbourhoods a better place to live! The workshop is led by Toronto Environmental Alliance, supported by LIEN, and hosted by Nepean, Rideau and Osgoode Community Resource Centre

What to expect

  • Get inspired by real-life examples of how tenants have successfully run their own energy conservation programs.
  • Learn step-by-step how you could kick-start your own energy conservation program.
  • Collect ideas, advice, tools, and resources to help you along the way.
  • Participate in breakout sessions and activities.
  • Relate what you've been learning to your own   neighbourhood.
  • Network with fellow tenant advocates and activists.

Date: Thursday, October 9, 2008

Time: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Location: Jim Durrell Complex, 1265 Walkley Road, Ottawa

Register Now!
Option 1: Fill in the online registration form: www.torontoenvironment.org/workshops
Option 2: Email or fax the registration form to the LIEN Coordinator.

Contact information for LIEN Coordinator
Call toll free: 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5167
Email: bhanjiz@lao.on.ca
Fax: 1-416-597-5821

LIEN Currents, Summer 2008 issue

Summer 2008 issue

The impact of smart sub-metering on low-income tenants

LIEN is very concerned about the impact of smart submetering on housing affordability for low-income tenants who right now pay for electricity in their rent and already struggle to pay for other basic necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medicine.

Having utilities included in rent is a fundamental and valuable term in residential rental contracts, providing tenants with some degree of certainty with respect to expected costs in order to make crucial household budget decisions.

People on social assistance, single-parent families, the elderly, visible minorities, immigrants and persons with disabilities are all over-represented in the population of low-income tenants. They are particularly vulnerable to increases in shelter and utility costs - increases which are difficult to absorb and which could put their housing in jeopardy.

For information on smart submetering, please refer to the resources below: 

1) Tenant information flyer on smart submetering
2) Smart submetering FAQs for tenants

Affordable energy and the Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy

The Ontario government has committed to developing a Poverty Reduction Strategy by the end of 2008. A series of government consultations were held across the province in May and June, and Ontarians were invited to submit ideas and comments either through the government's website at www.growingstronger.ca, or by fax or regular mail.

LIEN believes that the province's poverty reduction plan and its long-term affordable housing strategy must both address energy poverty. The LIEN submission to the Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction recommended that the following changes be made to help low-income people who are finding it increasingly difficult to afford their energy bills: (1) establish permanent, adequately-funded energy conservation programs for low-income consumers, with targets for the number of homes to be retrofitted annually. Such programs should be available at no cost to eligible participants and be equitably accessible province-wide; and (2) establish a permanent Ontario Home Energy Affordability Program for low-income consumers.

Saving Energy: The 6-Step Guide to Tenant Action

LIEN is pleased to announce a great new resource called "Saving Energy: The 6-Step Guide to Tenant Action"!  This Guide was written for people like you who want to help tenants save energy and money. Offering a simple 6-step approach to get neighbourhoods organized and working towards common goals, the Guide can help kick start tenant-led energy conservation activities and more.  In this Guide you will find key advice every 'Step' of the way, examples and tips based on lessons learned from real-world experiences, and a helpful 'Info & Ideas' resource section at the end.

This Guide, written by the Toronto Environmental Alliance, is part of a 3-part project in partnership with LIEN to provide resources, workshops, and program opportunities for low-income tenant neighbourhoods to work together, take action and save energy!

We hope you will benefit from this Guide and share it with others!

Click here for your own free copy.

Energy Poverty Fact Sheet

Compelling statistics, compiled by LIEN, that illustrate the disproportionate energy burden facing low-income energy consumers.

Energy Poverty Fact Sheet (updated June 2008)

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