I would like to inform you of a new low income assistance program that will be of great benefit for electricity customers in Hamilton. I would also like to take this opportunity to let you know what Horizon Utilities has been doing to ensure customers are made fully aware of the program.

The new program is the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP). By applying financial credits directly on Horizon Utilities’ bills for qualified low-income customers, OESP’s great advantage is that it reduces the customer’s payment at the source. The program does not begin until January, but I am bringing this to your attention today because customers are now able to begin the registration process to qualify for the program.

OESP is an initiative of the Ministry of Energy and the assistance is specifically targeted at low-income customers spending a higher proportion of their household income on electricity. The value of the credit on the customer’s bill is determined by a number of criteria, including:

• Household income

• Number of people in the household, and

• High-intensity electricity usage, such as for electric heating or certain medical devices.

An online web portal for low-income customers to submit the documentation required to qualify is now open at this link: OntarioElectricitySupport.ca. Once a customer does qualify, the OESP credits will appear on the first bill the customer receives from Horizon Utilities with consumption incurred after January 1, 2016.

We are told by the Ministry of Energy that this program could benefit more than 500,000 low-income Ontario households, so I want to ensure Hamilton customers can take full advantage. If you know customers that are seeking additional information about the program, please direct them to OntarioElectricitySupport.ca or have them call 1-855-831-8151.

I am also ensuring that Horizon Utilities fully communicates the OESP program with customers and our community agency partners. I want this assistance to be well known and I want customers to be educated about the qualifying process. As a start, there will be advertising of the program with newspaper notices, radio ads, and bus shelter posters. Horizon Utilities will be providing customers with an informational billing insert this fall.

Please note that residents in the Stoney Creek/Winona portion of Ward 11 are serviced by Horizon Utilities and residents in the Glanbrook portion of Ward 11 are serviced by Hydro One. 

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