Low-income Ontarians need help to conserve energy

TheStar.com – Business – Province wants program in place by January 2011
Published On Wed Jul 07 2010.  Laurie Monsebraaten, Social Justice Reporter

Ontario’s electricity supply planner and energy industry regulator have been told to design, implement and fund an energy efficiency and conservation program for low-income residents by January 2011.

In letters this week to the Ontario Power Authority and the Ontario Energy Board, Energy Minister Brad Duguid ordered the provincial agencies to resume work on a province-wide strategy to help low-income consumers reduce their energy consumption and costs.

Last fall, former energy minister George Smitherman told the agencies to put their consultations and pilot programs on hold while the government worked on an integrated strategy for low-income energy consumers as part of its Green Energy Act.

In his letters this week, Duguid encouraged the agencies to build on their past work to establish a “robust and integrated gas and electric low-income energy strategy.”

The program should include province-wide customer service policies such as rules governing security deposits, arrears management and disconnection; emergency financial help for customers facing short-term crises; and conservation and energy efficiency retrofits, the letters said.

The Low-Income Energy Network, a group of tenant, environmental and anti-poverty advocates, welcomed the move.

“This is good news for low-income consumers who have been waiting too long for a solution to energy poverty,” said Theresa McClenaghan, executive director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. “They do not have the resources to pay for energy-saving retrofits, and are seriously challenged in meeting their basic energy needs, including healthy home temperatures during dangerously hot summer days and freezing winter nights.”

The group is also pleased that the gas regulator and electricity supply planner have been asked to co-ordinate conservation programs.

< http://www.thestar.com/business/article/833362–low-income-ontarians-need-help-to-conserve-energy >

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