Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)
If you qualify, you can get emergency financial help and also take advantage of special rules.
Take note, though: neither the OEB nor your local utility can offer you this help directly. You must go through one of the social agencies listed below.
1. Do I Qualify?
In order to qualify, you must have a family income that falls below a certain limit. Those limits are laid out in the table below.
The amount of income it takes to qualify as low-income depends on two factors:
- how many people live in the house and
- your combined household income
For example, a home with 4 people and an annual after-tax income of $37,000 would be eligible for a LEAP EFA grant.
LEAP EFA Income Eligibility Criteria
|HOUSEHOLD AFTER TAX INCOME ($)||NUMBER OF PEOPLE LIVING IN HOME|
|1||2||3||4||5||6||7 or more|
|Less than 28,000||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible|
|28,001 - 39,000||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible|
|39,001 - 48,000||Eligible||Eligible||Eligible|
|48,001 - 52,000||Eligible|
2. What Help is Available to Me?
Emergency Financial Assistance
Low-income customers can get up to $500 in emergency assistance for your electricity bills ($600 if your home is heated electrically) and $500 for gas bills.
The assistance is only available if you are behind on your bill – or in arrears – and may face having your service shut off (disconnected). It is for emergency situations only and is not meant to provide you with ongoing help to pay your bills.
You cannot receive more money than you owe on your bill.
a) Your local social agency determines you meet the requirements
b) You’ve received emergency financial assistance within the past two years (in which case you automatically qualify)
Rules for Low-Income Electricity Customers
You can ask to have your security deposit waived.
If you previously paid a security deposit you can ask to have it back (as long as any outstanding arrears have been paid).
When your security deposit is returned, it will either be:
If the electricity utility made a mistake and overcharged you, they will refund that money by cheque immediately.
If the electricity utility made a mistake and undercharged you, you will have to pay that money back. As a qualified low-income customer, you can pay the company back over a longer period of time than other customers.
You have 2 options:
Equalized billing spreads your electricity payments evenly over 12 months. Equalized bills don’t rise or fall suddenly – even if your electricity usage does. Because of that, some consumers use it to help with their budget.
As a low-income customer, you have the right to request equalized billing without paying by automatic withdrawal. Other customers who want this service are generally required to pay by automatic withdrawal.
NOTE: If you have a contract with an electricity reseller, or retailer, or if you are a customer of a unit sub-metering provider, then the rules in relation to equal billing plans do not apply.
Disconnection Grace Period
|If your social service or government agency notifies your electricity utility that you may be eligible for emergency assistance, the company must suspend that disconnection process for 21 days.|
Arrears Payment Agreement
Eligible low-income customers are allowed more time to pay outstanding balances to their electricity utilities. Those time periods are:
Your utility may also ask for a 10% down payment when you enter an arrears payment plan.
You are allowed to default on your payment plan twice before your low-income arrears agreement can be cancelled.
If your power has been disconnected, you will not have to pay the disconnection or reconnection fee. Non-payment fees and charges associated with any load control device installed by your utility will also be waived.
NOTE: Low-income customers are only allowed to receive these special rules after at least 12 months have passed since their last payment plan was completed. If you go on a 2nd payment plan within 12 months, it will be on same terms as all other customers.
Rules for Low-Income Natural Gas Customers
Natural gas utilities have also developed appropriate standards and policies specific to low-income natural gas customers.
For more information, consult your utility’s current Conditions of Service:
Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc.
Telephone: (416) 758-4701
Union Gas Limited
Telephone: 1-888-774-3111 (Account & Billing Inquiries)
Natural Resource Gas Limited
Telephone: (519) 773-5321 ext 211
Web link: http://www.ontarioenergyboard.ca/OEB/_Documents/For+Consumers/NRG_Customer_Service_Policy.pdf
Kitchener Utilities (Billing Inquiries)
Telephone: (519) 741-2450
Telephone: (613) 546-0000 (Call Centre)
3. Who Do I Contact for Help?
In order to access emergency financial assistance and special rules you must go through a social service or government agency.
Documenting Your Need
You will likely have to meet with a representative of the social agency for an interview. You will be asked to provide some paperwork, including:
- Current electricity and gas bills
- A disconnection notice, if you have received one
- A copy of a rental contract, lease or mortgage documents
- Proof of household income – cheque stub, employment letter, income tax return for adult members of household
- A copy of your most recent bank statement
Approving Your Status
The agency looking at your case will decide whether or not you qualify as low-income.
If you are accepted, your electricity or gas provider will be quickly contacted and asked to stop any further disconnection or collection activity on your account. Your energy utility will also be notified if your application is denied.
Money Does Not Change Hands
Grants are issued on behalf of customers and paid directly to the utility. You will not receive a cheque.
Page last updated 2016-01-18