News & Events

LIEN supports social housing conservation program as a good first step

(Toronto) The Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) welcomed the announcement by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) of the launch of its "Low-Income Conservation and Demand Management Program". Energy Minister Donna Cansfield and Peter Love, the province's Chief Conservation Officer, made the announcement today at the Energy Matters conference in Brampton.

"Low-income consumers are the most vulnerable to energy and electricity price increases, and supporting a program in the social housing sector is a good first step, " said Theresa McClenaghan, counsel with the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

Low-income energy consumers face challenging barriers to participating in a conservation culture in Ontario without the type of systematic assistance that the OPA announced today. The OPA was responding to a directive from the Minister of Energy asking it to provide a 100 MW of electricity savings in low-income and social housing conservation and demand management programs.

Barriers for low-income consumers include lack of access to capital to pay for building improvements and efficient appliance replacement, and lack of control over major factors affecting energy consumption in the case of low-income tenants.

"Inability to pay for energy costs is a leading cause of homelessness in Ontario. It is essential that a low-income conservation and demand management program address the real issues that Ontario low-income consumers are facing, regardless of whether they own their own homes, are tenants in social housing, or are tenants in the private rental market, " stated Mary Todorow, policy analyst with the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. "We look forward to a quick development and expansion of the OPA's low-income conservation program beyond the social housing sector this spring as promised by the Chief Conservation Officer."

LIEN will continue to monitor and participate in development of low-income energy programs assisting Ontario's vulnerable energy consumers to ensure that they are not left on the sidelines as Ontario develops a robust conservation culture.

Ontario and Nova Scotia advocates team up to improve federal plan for low-income energy consumers

(Toronto/Halifax) The Affordable Energy Coalition (AEC) in Nova Scotia and the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) of Ontario released their recommendations today to ensure maximum success in the delivery of the federal government's recently announced programs, the EnerGuide for Low-Income Households and the Energy Cost Benefit.

"The new federal programs are great news. Our concern is that low-income consumers must have direct access to energy conservation measures that don't rely on reimbursement. People who are having a hard time juggling paying for both rent and food are in no position to spend money up front," says Claire McNeil of the Affordable Energy Coalition.

"We are hoping our recommendations will be welcomed by the federal government. The more closely the departments can work with their community partners, the better the chance of success of the programs," says Mary Todorow of the Low-Income Energy Network.

The LIEN/AEC recommendations include:
· direct program delivery
· energy conservation measures at no cost to participants
· comprehensive approach which includes education and outreach
· focus on renters as well as homeowners and social housing residents
· appliance and system upgrades for all types of energy use, including electricity, gas and oil
· ongoing rate assistance
· include families with no children and low-income singles who are not seniors
· additional ways of identifying those in need (other than National Child Benefit or Guaranteed Income Supplement)
· no clawback of benefits by provinces or territories

See this document for the LIEN AEC response.

Energy Costs to be Dumped on Tenants?

TORONTO - The Ontario government is paving the way for landlords to unilaterally dump energy costs on tenants. Installing sub-metering in apartment buildings would be ineffective and unfair, charge critics in a report to be released today.

The report, Zapping Tenants: a critical analysis of sub-metering in the residential rental sector, will be released today, Thursday, May 5 at 1:00 p.m. in the Queen's Park Media Studio.

"We should be looking at the best way to conserve energy in rental housing, not the best way to put money in the pockets of the private meter companies," says Keith Stewart of the Toronto Environmental Alliance. "That's why we are putting forward a proposal for a balanced system which protects both the environment and low-income tenants."

"The government's proposal to snatch a few kilowatt hours off the grid by shifting rapidly rising energy costs to tenants penalizes Ontario's lowest income residents. It also ignores the more effective conservation gains that could be made by landlords," says Julia McNally, Staff Lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO).

American energy expert, Roger Colton, of Fisher Sheehan and Colton (Boston) will share U.S. sub-metering experience and research. "Imposing increased energy costs on tenants through individual meters threatens the affordability of basic shelter for low-income tenants. This despite the fact that sub-meters are almost never justifiable on an economic or energy conservation basis," says Roger Colton.

Click here for the full report and here for a background document on sub-metering.

Electricity price hikes will hit poor hardest

In response to the announcement of higher prices for electricity, the Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) called on the provincial government to introduce province-wide energy conservation and bill assistance programs for low-income households. Click here for the press release.

Growing number of households caught in Ontario energy crisis

A press release to announce the release of LIEN's low-income energy efficiency program. LIEN developed this energy efficiency program for local distribution companies to address the particular needs of low-income consumers for the 2005 heating season. The work was supported by the Ministry of Energy and the Toronto Atmospheric Fund.

LIEN approves NAHEEP resolution

LIEN has formally approved the National Affordable Housing Energy Efficiency Program Resolution.

Designing a low-income energy efficiency program

LIEN received funding from the Toronto Atmospheric Fund and the Ministry of Energy for the development of recommendations for a low-income energy efficiency program design for electricity local distribution companies (LDCs). This project is one of several initiatives undertaken or being pursued by LIEN, as part of its multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to easing the energy burden of low-income households in Ontario.

The low-income energy efficiency program recommended in this report is limited to low-income homeowners and low-income tenants who directly pay for their electricity. This limitation was established to enable the development of a program design that could be piloted by LDCs, starting in 2005. With respect to low-income tenant participants in the pilot program, priority should be given to the energy savings measures that are easily implemented and do not require the consent of landlords under current legislative and regulatory rules and provisions . Appliances and hot water/heating equipment will be replaced under the program only if tenants own the items.

Click here for the report.

On April 1st when the electricity cap comes off, is it just a matter of time before the lights go out for low-income consumers?

A press release from the Low Income Energy Network (LIEN) responding to the April 1, 2004 increase in electricity rates for residential consumers.

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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