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Government creates program to help low-income energy customers

By Contributor
July 11th, 2014

Premier Christy Clark has announced that government, in partnership with BC Hydro and FortisBC, is expanding energy-efficiency programs to help customers, particularly those on low-incomes, reduce their electricity and gas bills.

Updates to existing low-income programs will nearly double the number of eligible customers and make it easier to apply, and a new program will provide homeowners with up to $6,000 in rebates for energy-efficiency upgrades.

“Power Smart is all about helping families save money on their energy bills,” said Clark. “The funding announced today makes energy-efficiency upgrades more accessible and affordable for British Columbians.”

To help low income households reduce their energy costs, BC Hydro and FortisBC will offer the Energy Conservation Assistance Program (ECAP) and the Energy Saving Kit Program (ESK).

The ECAP provides free energy assessments and energy-saving products such as new ENERGY STAR® refrigerators and insulation upgrades. Customers who receive a fridge could save up to $165 per year in energy costs, and customers who also receive insulation upgrades could save over $300 per year.

The Energy Saving Kits include a number of simple, easy-to-install products such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and weather stripping that can result in savings close to $100 each year.

As a result of regulation changes by government, these programs can now be made available to a greater number of customers on low incomes.

The changes will allow BC Hydro and FortisBC to nearly double the number of eligible customers from 180,000 to 325,000 and will make it easier for the utilities to partner with non-profit housing providers and First Nations on program delivery.

BC Hydro and FortisBC have also launched the new Home Energy Rebate Offer.

Through this offer, homeowners can access up to $6,000 in rebates for a variety of energy-efficiency upgrades focused on reducing water and space heating costs, such as heating and hot water systems and insulation. Homeowners that complete these upgrades could reduce their energy bills by up to 30%.

“We need to make investments in our electricity system so that we can continue to have affordable, reliable and clean power,” said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines and Minister Responsible for Core Review.

“At the same time, these investments put pressure on rates which is why we have worked with BC Hydro and FortisBC to expand energy-efficiency programs and provide customers with more tools to reduce their energy costs.”

“Being Power Smart isn’t just about turning off lights and conserving electricity,” said Joanna Sofield, general manager of Customer Care and Power Smart, BC Hydro.

“It’s also about helping our customers access products and complete upgrades that will make a noticeable difference to their energy costs. The Home Energy Rebate Offer is an excellent starting point for anyone planning a home upgrade in B.C.”

“We’re dedicated to helping all of our customers reduce their energy consumption,” said Tom Loski, vice president, Customer Service, FortisBC.

“Our energy-efficiency and conservation programs will provide our customers with incentives to make energy-efficient home improvements, saving them energy and money on their utility bills.”

“This is a regulatory change the BC Non-Profit Housing Association’s asset management team has been making the case for in our discussions with energy providers , and we are very pleased to see the minister has listened and acted,” said Tony Roy, executive director of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association. 

“From an energy-efficiency perspective, we see this as important step towards mitigating energy usage from low-income British Columbians.  This added flexibility will enable non-profit housing providers to facilitate property upgrades in thousands of units of non-profit housing across B.C.”

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