Energy Justice & Poverty – A Case Study for Ontario
CELA lawyers Jacqueline Wilson and Theresa McClenaghan recently teamed up with Zee Bhanji and former staffer Mary Todorow of the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, to write a case study of the work undertaken over the past 20 years in Ontario to achieve a comprehensive energy poverty strategy.
The paper explores the concept of energy poverty, and its ongoing impacts on marginalized communities in Ontario. They examined the experience in Ontario advancing the interests of low-income energy consumers through the Ontario Energy Board natural gas and electricity rate decision-making processes, including the organization of the Low-income Energy Network (LIEN).
They looked at key factors in the relative success of LIEN’s advocacy for low-income energy programming, based on advocacy for all elements of the “Energy Poverty Pyramid,” a concept which we borrowed from Dalhousie Law Clinic. Resulting programs include emergency energy assistance, low-income energy conservation programs, better utility terms of service and avoiding disconnections, and the adoption of the Ontario Electricity Support Program.
The chapter looks at the critical active and on-going participation of many community partners and legal aid clinics, and the roles of utilities and governments in developing the elements of an energy poverty strategy. The chapter goes on to highlight the need for the integration of low-income and otherwise marginalized communities into the design of carbon pricing and climate change adaptation strategies. They also make recommendations regarding the need for further refinement and expansion of low-income energy programs.
A working draft of the paper is now available on our website pending its publication by UBC Press: Gaede, Hill and Winfield: Sustainable Energy Transitions for Canada: Challenges and Opportunities, in development for UBC Press.