OEB initiatives relating to low-income customers

An IndEco article

By: Amy Snook


On July 5th, 2010 the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure issued two letters—one to the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), one to the Ontario Power Authority (OPA)—on work relating to province-wide low-income energy programs. In response, on July 22nd the OEB issued a letter to stakeholders outlining the initiatives that the Board will undertake in the coming weeks and months to consider policies and programs in the three areas of the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP):
  • Emergency financial assistance;
  • Customer service rules; and
  • Targeted conservation and demand side management programs to low-income customers of electricity and natural gas distributors.

This work is primarily a continuation of the Board’s LEAP work that was deferred in September 2009 at the request of the government.

Emergency financial assistance


Beginning in August 2010, the OEB will initiate further consultation with their Financial Assistance Working Group that developed recommendations for the implementation of an emergency financial assistance program for electricity and natural gas distributors. Consultations with stakeholders will take place on August 18; September 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30. The OEB will consider extending the program to customers of unit sub-meter providers. The aim is to have an emergency financial assistance program in place for the 2010-2011 heating season.

Customer service rules for electricity


The OEB will resume consultations on the development of customer service rules tailored to low-income electricity customers. The customer service rules adopted for all electricity customers on July 2nd, 2010 will serve as the baseline for additional rules applicable solely to low-income customers.

Customer service rules for natural gas


The OEB will initiate a consultation process and develop customer service rules for natural gas distributors similar to those developed for electricity distributors for all customers, and additional rules solely for low-income customers.

Customer service rules for unit sub-meter providers


The OEB will initiate a consultation process and develop customer service rules for unit sub-meter providers similar to those developed for electricity distributors for all customers, and additional rules solely for low-income customers.

Targeted DSM programs for low-income customers of natural gas distributors


One-year (2011) DSM plans are filed with the OEB and are currently under review. The implications of the Minister’s letter will be considered through the hearing process on these plans.

The OEB has ongoing consultations on DSM guidelines for natural gas distributors for 2012 and beyond. It is anticipated that draft DSM guidelines will be issued for stakeholder comment in September.

Targeted CDM programs for low-income customers of electricity distributors


The OEB will coordinate with the OPA, as the OPA moves forward with the development of an electricity CDM program for low-income residential consumers, to facilitate a coordinated approach to the delivery of CDM and DSM programs for low-income residential consumers. The OEB may consider amending the CDM code (draft CDM code issued June 22nd, 2010) to address further developments regarding low-income electricity consumers.

Related information


Work to resume on province-wide low income programs
Summary of the July 5th letter from Minister of Energy and Infrastructure
IndEco's report on the low-income natural gas demand side management program framework
Recommendations for an overall model for a low-income energy program in Ontario