Coalition denounces the termination of Éconologis, the only program aimed at
reducing energy bills in low-income households

MONTREAL and QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - A coalition of organizations is strenuously denouncing the decision by Agence d'efficacité énergétique (AEÉ) to abandon Éconologis, the only energy efficiency program available to low income households. The coalition, supported by over 250 organizations throughout Quebec, is asking Natural Resources and Wildlife Minister Nathalie Normandeau to get the AEÉ to review its decision.

The AEÉ recently requested the Quebec energy board to authorize termination of the Éconologis program as of April 1, 2010.

Since 1999, the program, which is available to both tenants and homeowners, has provided free home visits and advice over to 60,000 low-income households. It also performs minor energy-efficiency work and installs energy-saving products. "Éconologis is the only energy efficiency measure specifically designed for clients who would otherwise have no access to any program," says Alexandre Turgeon, executive president of Vivre en Ville.

The decision sparked anger among consumer defence organizations, especially since AEÉ intends to replace Éconologis with a program that will exclude a large number of low income Quebecers. On top of this, there are worrying signs that the pilot phase of the program is already behind schedule. "Should the pilot fail, the sudden withdrawal of Éconologis will leave many households with nowhere to turn," says Option consommateurs executive director Michel Arnold.

Low income families generally have old, energy-inefficient appliances and often live in cold, poorly insulated dwellings that consume large amounts of energy. Traditional energy efficiency methods are difficult to apply in such households, especially since most are tenants and have no money to invest in improvements. "It would be unjust and unacceptable that disadvantaged households, which already finance energy efficiency programs through their utility bills and have a greater need of these programs than others, will no longer have access to them," declares Charles Tanguay, a spokesman for Union des consommateurs.

In 2008-2009, Éconologis, delivered by 12 non-profit-making organizations, including the ACEF, Option consommateurs and Vivre en Ville, allowed some 12,700 low-income households in every region of Quebec to benefit from free energy saving measures, to reduce their energy bills and be better prepared to face the rigours of winter.

SOURCE Option consommateurs

For further information: For further information: Julie Gagnon, Option consommateurs, (514) 777-6133; Charles Tanguay, Union des consommateurs, (514) 743-0419; Léa Méthé Myrand, Vivre en Ville, (514) 294-6997

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