New Program Helps Low-Income Ontarians with Electricity Bills

Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) Now Accepting Applications

TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2015 /CNW/ - The new Ontario Electricity Support Program is now accepting applications and will help make electricity more affordable for low-income families. The OESP was developed by the Ontario Energy Board and is designed to lower electricity bills through an on-bill credit. Starting January 1, 2016, eligible consumers will receive an on-bill credit of between $30 and $50 a month. 

To qualify, applicants must receive an electricity bill and meet certain household income thresholds. Consumers are encouraged to apply online at OntarioElectricitySupport.ca and they can also call 1-855-831-8151 for more information and to be connected with a local intake agency for application assistance. Eligible consumers can expect the credit to appear directly on their bill about six to eight weeks from the date their application is approved.   

More than 90 community groups are now ready to help consumers apply. For some consumers who heat their home with electricity or rely on certain medical devices that use a lot of electricity, the program offers a higher rate of assistance. First Nations and Métis consumers may also qualify for a higher rate of assistance.  First Nations electricity consumers should contact the Ontario Native Welfare Administrators Association (ONWAA) to confirm eligibility and to complete their applications at 1-844-885-3157. 

The Ontario Energy Board is an independent and impartial public regulatory agency. We make decisions that serve the public interest. Our goal is to promote a sustainable and efficient energy sector that provides consumers with reliable energy services at a reasonable cost.

Quotes:

"The Ontario Energy Board is responsible for protecting the interests of all consumers and is pleased to be able to offer the Ontario Electricity Support Program.  Designed with input from consumer and community groups including First Nations and Métis, the OESP could assist as many as 500,000 low-income Ontario households," says Rosemarie Leclair, the Ontario Energy Board's Chair and CEO.

The OESP will help low-income consumers with their electricity bills and may help avoid disconnection of service," said Mary Todorow, Research/Policy Analyst at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) and one of the Low-Income Energy Network's (LIEN) founding members. "The OESP is an important element in a comprehensive approach to reducing energy poverty, alongside low-income targeted conservation programs, special customer service rules and emergency financial assistance."

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BACKGROUNDER

New Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP)
Help For Low-Income Ontarians

At the Minister of Energy's request, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has developed a new rate program to lower electricity bills for Ontario's low-income households. This Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) is now open and ready to accept applications.

The Need 

Designed with input from social service agencies, utilities, low-income advocates, First Nations and Métis communities, the OESP could benefit more than 500,000 low-income Ontario households. For low-income Ontarians, paying their electricity bill can be a challenge. Electricity represents a significantly greater share of their monthly expenses. For example, for households with an annual income of $20,000, a typical electricity bill could be 10 per cent or more of their income. The OESP is one of several programs designed to help electricity consumers with limited financial resources.

The OESP is available to all eligible low-income consumers of electricity utilities, unit sub-meter providers and electricity retailers. The Statistics Canada Low-Income Measure (LIM) is used to determine eligibility.

Most eligible consumers will have to reapply every two years or whenever personal circumstances change such as a move, increase or change in income levels.   

How OESP Helps – On-Bill Credits Between $30 to $50 A Month

Starting January 1, 2016, the OESP will provide a monthly, on-bill credit to eligible consumers based on household income and number of people living in the home. For example, a family of three earning a total household income of $30,000, will receive an on-bill credit of $30 a month.

OESP Monthly Credit Amounts

Household Income

Household Size (Number of people living in household)


1

2

3

4

5

6

7+

$28,000 or less

$30

$30

$34

$38

$42

$50

$50

$28,001 – $39,000



$30

$34

$38

$42

$50

$39,001 – $48,000





$30

$34

$38

$48,001 – $52,000







$30

The OESP offers a higher level of assistance to low-income First Nations and Métis households, consumers whose homes are electrically heated, and those who rely on certain medical devices requiring a lot of electricity. The credit for those receiving a higher level of assistance is between $45 and $75 a month.  

OESP Monthly Credit Amounts – Energy Intensive

Household Income

Household Size (Number of people living in household)


1

2

3

4

5

6

7+

$28,000 or less

$45

$45

$50

$55

$60

$75

$75

$28,001-$39,000



$45

$50

$55

$60

$75

$39,001-$48,000





$45

$50

$55

$48,001-$52,000







$45

Program Costs and Funding

The OESP is funded by all electricity ratepayers. A per kilowatt-hour charge will be included under regulatory charges on all consumers' bills. The OESP will cost the typical residential electricity consumer about $1 a month.

Consumer Information
For general information visit OntarioElectricitySupport.ca or call 1-855-831-8151 (TTY: 1-800-855-1155). 

The Ontario Native Welfare Administrators Association (ONWAA) will work with First Nations communities to provide personal support. Call 1-844-885-3157 or email oesp@onwaa.com for more information.

SOURCE Ontario Energy Board

For further information: Media Inquiries: 416-544-5171; Public Inquiries: 416-314-2455 or 1-877-632-2727


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