News & Events

LIEN Currents, Spring 2008 issue

Spring 2008 issue

Victory at Divisional Court - But low-income energy consumers still face fight for affordable rates

Today, the Divisional Court sided with low-income Ontarians to rule that "the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has the jurisdiction to establish a rate affordability assistance program for low-income consumers."

The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN)'s representatives Mary Truemner, Acting Director of Legal Services with the legal aid clinic the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, and co-counsel Paul Manning of Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP were pleased that the Court declared that "to further the objective of protecting 'the interests of consumers' this could mean taking into account income levels and pricing to achieve the delivery of affordable energy to low income consumers ½".  They were cautious, however, in responding to the Court's determinations.

"While the Court ruled the OEB has jurisdiction, they did not also determine that the Board must exercise their discretion to set affordable rates for low-income consumers," said Mary Truemner. "It is for this reason that we urge the Minister of Energy to issue a directive that the Ontario Energy Board must design a rate affordability program to minimize the effects of rising energy costs on low-income Ontarians facing choices between heating, eating and paying the rent.  The Court noted that "the Minister has not issued any policy statement directing the board to base rates on considerations of the ability to pay."

The Income Security Advocacy Centre, a LIEN member and legal aid clinic, is asking that the government address energy poverty in its Poverty Reduction Strategy.

For more information:

Mary Truemner, ACTO, 416-597-5855 ext. 5163, cell: 416-996-1021
(Toll free in Ontario: 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5163)

2006 Ontario statistics on heating equipment by income quintile

Custom tabulation for the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and the Income Security Advocacy Centre from SURVEY OF HOUSEHOLD SPENDING 2006; DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS AND HOUSEHOLD EQUIPMENT BY HOUSEHOLD INCOME QUINTILE, ONTARIO, 2006. STATISTICS CANADA, INCOME STATISTICS DIVISION, CUSTOM TABULATION* (FEBRUARY 26, 2008)

2006-ontario-stats-on-heating-equipment

2006 Ontario statistics on appliances by income quintile

Custom tabulation for the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario and the Income Security Advocacy Centre from SURVEY OF HOUSEHOLD SPENDING 2006; DWELLING CHARACTERISTICS AND HOUSEHOLD EQUIPMENT BY HOUSEHOLD INCOME QUINTILE, ONTARIO, 2006. STATISTICS CANADA, INCOME STATISTICS DIVISION, CUSTOM TABULATION* (FEBRUARY 26, 2008)

2006-ont-stats-on-appliances-by-income-quintile

LIEN Annual Conference 2008 - Toronto

"Making Connections: Green Pathways out of Energy Poverty"

Where: Thomas Lounge, Oakham House, Ryerson University Campus
Date: Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
Time: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
What: A gathering for anti-poverty, affordable housing and environmental advocates to share experiences and engage in an action agenda on low-income energy issues such as:

• Rising energy prices and the need for a low-income rate affordability program
• The impact of smart sub-metering on low-income tenants
• Addressing energy affordability within the context of Ontario's poverty reduction, long-term affordable housing, and climate change strategies
• Reducing bills and pollution through energy conservation programs for low-income consumers

Who should attend?
Anyone interested in low-income energy issues, or who wants to get involved. No special expertise required - bring your questions and your experiences to share with others.

Why you should attend:
It's free! And you will leave the conference with new connections, resources, and knowledge - ready to successfully take on the challenges in your own community.

Who/What is the Low-Income Energy Network?
The Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) is a network of community organizations that was formed to raise awareness of implications for low-income households of increases in energy prices and to propose solutions. LIEN aims to ensure universal access to adequate energy as a basic necessity, while minimizing the impacts on health and on the local and global environment of meeting the essential energy and conservation needs of all Ontarians. LIEN promotes programs and policies which tackle the problems of energy poverty and homelessness, reduce Ontario's contribution to smog and climate change, and promote a healthy economy through the more efficient use of energy, a transition to renewable sources of energy, education and consumer protection.

LIEN currently has over 70 member organizations and a steering committee made up of representatives from:
• Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO)
• Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA)
• Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC)
• Share the Warmth (STW)
• Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC)
• Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA)

For background information and copies of presentations made at the conference, please refer to the documents posted below.

CONFERENCE MATERIALS

Conference kit

Agenda
LIEN 2-pager 
LIEN submission to Cabinet Committee on Poverty Reduction
Information energy assistance programs
Information on energy efficiency/conservation programs
Energy Poverty Factsheet
Smart sub-meter tenant infomation flyer
Smart sub-meter FAQs
Who does what on energy policy in OntarioAcronyms
Evaluation form

Presentations

Keynote address - A message from Peter Love, Ontario's Chief Energy Conservation Officer
Linking energy poverty to Ontario's poverty reduction and affordable housing strategies - Michael Shapcott
LIEN advocacy activities update - Mary Truemner (ACTO) and Theresa McClenaghan (CELA)
Low-income energy retrofits: The Ontario experience and a national vision - Clifford Maynes and Bruce Pearce (GCC)
Smart sub-metering in the multi-residential rental sector - Mary Todorow (ACTO)
Low-income tenant led energy conservation - the LITES project - Franz Hartmann (TEA)


Directions and Registration

Oakham House is located on the southwest corner of Church Street and Gould Street. It is a 2 minute walk east of Yonge Street, just north of the Dundas subway station.
In keeping with the theme of the conference, if feasible, organizers would encourage the use of public transit or car pooling. There are several paid public parking lots also nearby. Please register by Friday, May 30, 2008.

There is no registration fee for the conference and lunch will be provided, but we ask that you register as soon as possible so that we can order the food.

Click here to view the Registration Form

LIEN Workshop in Toronto

LIEN/TEA regional workshop
"Low-Income Tenants' Step-by-Step Guide to Energy Savings and Neighbourhood Action"

Where: Oakham Lounge, Oakham House, Ryerson University Campus
Date: Wednesday, June 11th, 2008
Time: 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

What can you expect?
This will be a full-day workshop run by the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA), a LIEN steering committee member. The workshop lays out the steps for tenants to start a custom-made energy saving program in their own apartment building.

This is how the day will look:
• To start off, we'll use real-life examples of how tenants have successfully run their own energy conservation programs.
• Then we'll outline how you can do this in your own building or neighbourhood using a number of simple steps.
• You'll be given lots of examples and advice on how to follow each of the steps, including special tools or tactics that can help you along the way.
• Since every neighbourhood and building is different, there will be some time near the end to break out into groups and apply what you've been learning to your own neighbourhood situation.

Who should attend?
• Anyone who lives in Ontario - this is not just for Torontonians!
• Active tenants living in apartment buildings
• Neighbourhood and community groups working with or for tenants
• People looking to find new ways to save energy in their apartment building

Why you should attend?
• It's free and you'll have a chance to talk with other tenant activists
• You'll feel refreshed and motivated to try out some new ways to bring tenants together and take action on an important issue.
• You'll gain an impressive 'tool kit' to kick start energy conservation activities in your neighbourhood
• What you learn at the workshop can be used time and time again to take action on other neighbourhood concerns

WORKSHOP MATERIALS

Presentation


Directions and Registration

Oakham House is located on the southwest corner of Church Street and Gould Street. It is a 2 minute walk east of Yonge Street, just north of the Dundas subway station.
In keeping with the theme of the workshop, if feasible, organizers would encourage the use of public transit or car pooling. There are several paid public parking lots also nearby. Please register by Friday, May 30, 2008.

There is no registration fee for the workshop and lunch will be provided, but we ask that you register as soon as possible so that we can order the food.

Click here to view the Registration Form

Fight for lower energy bills for poor goes to Divisional Court

Today, the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) is appearing before a Divisional Court panel at 10:00 a.m. at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Courtroom #3. LIEN is arguing that the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has the authority to set affordable gas rates for low-income energy consumers.

In April 2007, the OEB released a decision that it had no jurisdiction to implement rate affordability programs for low-income residential consumers. The Board decision was not unanimous. In a strongly worded dissent, OEB Vice Chair Gordon Kaiser argued, "I believe the Act gives the Ontario Energy Board broad powers and discretion to consider issues of public policy and the necessary jurisdiction to enact low-income rates."  Mr. Kaiser continued, "Put simply, just and reasonable rates do not result from the application of a purely mechanical process of rate review and design."

LIEN is appealing the OEB's decision to Divisional Court because a permanent rate assistance program is a crucial component of its strategy to address energy poverty in Ontario.

LIEN's representatives Mary Truemner, Acting Director of Legal Services with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, and co-counsel Paul Manning of Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP said, "Low-income consumers struggle to manage their energy bills and pay for other essentials such as rent, food, transportation and medicine. The OEB should take this daily reality into account in order to set rates that are reasonable and just .

"We are hoping to convince the Court that the OEB is failing to protect the interests of low-income consumers whose only access to the vital service of energy is through a narrowly regulated utility currently allowed to set inequitable rates."

For more information:

Mary Truemner, ACTO, 416-597-5855 ext. 5163
(Toll free in Ontario: 1-866-245-4182 ext. 5163)

LIEN Currents, January/February 2008 issue

January/February 2008 issue

LIEN Currents, October/November 2007 issue

October/November 2007 issue

LIEN Lobby Tool Kit

LIEN has been working hard to ensure that low-income people have affordable energy bills and access to conservation programs. LIEN has designed a Lobby Kit which offers an introduction to the problem of energy poverty and some simple templates which you can use locally in your advocacy work with politicians and your community. Pay special attention to page 19 which outlines how you can help advocate in the provincial election for commitments from the political parties to address energy poverty, particularly for energy conservation and rate assistance programs for low-income households.

Click here to view the Lobby Kit.

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