It is imperative that renewable energy and energy efficiency policies are inclusive and help to promote energy justice - clean, green energy for all households and communities.
Households that spend more than 6% of their after-tax household income on home energy services (or roughly twice the national median) have high home energy cost burdens, and are said to be experiencing energy poverty. One in five, or 2.8 million Canadian households, are living in energy poverty, referring to the experience of households or communities that struggle to heat and cool their homes and power their lights and appliances.
Households in energy poverty face daily financial challenges and their homes often need basic energy efficiency upgrades and weatherization, making many existing clean energy programs out of reach. This inability to take advantage of clean energy programs means that not only do these households struggle with meeting their current energy needs, but they are also left out of the transition to a clean energy future.
The Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners (CUSP) provides a helpful introduction to energy poverty issues in Canada. You can check it out here.
CUSP has also created an Energy Poverty and Equity Explorer Tool that allows the user to see energy poverty rates at the local, provincial and federal level.
The Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP) has been set up to help lower-income customers with their electricity bills. It provides monthly on-bill credits for lower-income customers to reduce their electricity bills.
Emergency financial help is also available through the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) for income-eligible households. A COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) has recently been set up to support residential customers struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.