Through over 40 community agencies, with assistance from local United Ways across Ontario, Enbridge Gas Distribution, Enersource Hydro Mississauga, Hydro Ottawa, PowerStream Inc., Toronto Hydro Electric System and Union Gas are able to assist individuals in their communities who need help in paying their utility bills over the winter months. Five partner utilities will began their Winter Warmth funding period on December 3rd, with PowerStream Inc. starting on January 2nd, 2008.
"We're extremely pleased that the Winter Warmth program has grown to include six major Ontario utilities," said Manny Sousa, Chair of the Winter Warmth Steering Committee and Manager, Community Relations at Enbridge Gas Distribution. "By coordinating our efforts, Winter Warmth will help even more customers in need.
Piloted in the winter of 2004 by Enbridge Gas Distribution and United Way Greater Toronto, Winter Warmth has provided financial assistance to thousands of individuals and families across Ontario. In the 2006-2007 period alone, $534,000 in funding was distributed to over 1500 households across participating utility communities. Now, with the welcome addition of PowerStream Inc., the program's coverage extends even further than in previous years, enabling the Winter Warmth initiative to provide relief to more people, if needed.
According to a 2000 Ontario report from the Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada, winter space heating accounts for approximately 62 per cent of the average energy bill.
Families and individuals needing financial assistance to pay their heating and hydro bills can find information about Winter Warmth at their nearest community agency participating in the program.
Enbridge Gas Distribution, Enersource Hydro Mississauga, Hydro Ottawa, PowerStream Inc., Toronto Hydro Electric System and Union Gas Limited call centres will also advise customers about how to apply to Winter Warmth, where applicable, and direct them to the appropriate agency.
After successful completion of the application process, funding will be credited directly to the applicant's utility bill.
Eligible grant recipients include households who, due to reduced income or personal difficulties, are in arrears or at risk of going into arrears on their energy bills and have exhausted all other sources of financial support.