The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) was introduced by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) following a decision of the Divisional Court. Willms & Shier Environmental Lawyers LLP represented the Low-Income Energy Network (LIEN) as counsel, and won a ruling that the OEB has jurisdiction to implement affordable rate programs based on a consumer’s ability to pay.
As a result, the OEB was planning to move forward with new support programs under its LEAP initiative by early 2010, but put those plans on hold last September pending expected ministerial direction.
Energy and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid issued a letter on Monday to the OEB, requesting it to resume work on the province-wide strategy to help low-income consumers reduce their energy consumption and costs. The Minister also sent a companion letter to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), directing it to roll out an electricity conservation and demand management program targeted specifically to low-income consumers.
LEAP has three components: more flexible customer service rules, emergency financial assistance, and conservation. The OEB is expected to build on the guiding principles it has already developed for the LEAP initiative.
The new programs are expected to be in place by January 2011, but LIEN believes some protections, such as improved customer service rules and emergency assistance for the upcoming heating season, should be implemented earlier.
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