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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

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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