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Government expands programs to help customers lower energy costs

Jul 11, 2014

CRANBROOK, BC – 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.”

Learn more:

For more details about the Home Energy Rebate Offer, visit:

For more information on programs for customers on low-incomes, visit:


Programs to help customers lower energy costs

FortisBC and BC Hydro Power Smart low-income programs

  • FortisBC and BC Hydro Power Smart offer two joint programs to help low-income households in British Columbia to reduce their energy costs.
  • These programs are dedicated to helping those who need it most - eligibility is based on account verification and income qualifications.
  • Together, the utilities will spend $5.4 million this year on programs to help low-income customers reduce their energy costs.
  • The Province has amended two areas of the Demand-Side Measures (DSM) Regulation to enable utilities to double the number of customers eligible for the programs, make it easier to apply, and to allow utilities to partner with non-profit housing providers and First Nations on program delivery:
    • The income cut-off for the definition of low income household has been increased, and the income verification mechanism has been altered so individuals can have more ways to provide proof of low-income status.
    • The amendment allows utilities to provide incentives to low-income households through bulk delivery in partnership with non-profit housing providers and First Nations bands.

Energy Conservation and Assistance Program

  • This program offers free energy assessments and energy saving products to customers on low-incomes.
  • ECAP utilizes qualified contractors to help install upgrades ranging from $300 to $5,000 depending on the needs of the home.
  • The products available may include: •energy-efficient light bulbs
    • faucet aerators for the kitchen and bathroom
    • water-saving showerheads
    • water heater pipe wrap
    • door weather-stripping
    • ENERGY STAR® refrigerators
    • Insulation for an attic, wall or crawlspace
  • ECAP has assisted more than 8,000 customers since 2009, reducing their electricity costs by nearly half a million dollars in total.

Energy Saving Kit Program

  • This free kit provides customers on low incomes with a number of simple, easy-to-install, energy-saving products, including:
    • compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) that use up to 75% less energy than regular light bulbs and can last up to 10 years.
    • weather stripping for installation around windows and doors to help keep out drafts.
    • fridge and freezer thermometers to set ideal temperatures where food stays cold while using less electricity.
    • a high-efficiency showerhead that uses significantly less water than a regular showerhead.

Home Energy Rebate Offer

  • BC Hydro and FortisBC are offering homeowners new rebates on a variety of energy-efficiency upgrades.
  • The Home Energy Rebate Offer expands on the rebates available over the last year to residential customers as part of the former LiveSmart BC program.
  • The offer includes rebates for various upgrades and improvements that could reduce the average residential customer’s energy bill by up to 30%.
  • Home Energy Rebate Offer includes financial rebates for improvements to:
    • insulation
    • draftproofing
    • space heating systems
    • water heating systems
    • ventilation
  • The program also contains a Bonus Offer for completing any three of the following home energy upgrades.
    • ENERGY STAR windows
    • high-efficiency heating systems
    • insulation
    • draftproofing
    • water heating
    • heat recovery ventilators
  • The total value of the rebates is almost $6,000 per household, depending on the improvements undertaken:
    • up to $3,250 for insulation upgrades
    • up to $1,000 for an energy efficient water heater
    • $800 for a ductless air source heat pump
    • $750 Bonus Offer for installing three or more upgrades
    • up to $500 for draftproofing and air tightness
    • $300 for an EnerChoice® natural gas fireplace
    • $25 for an ENERGY STAR bathroom fan
  • Complete program details, product requirements, eligibility, terms and conditions, and application forms can be found at:

Conservation Program Funding

  • BC Hydro will spend $17.5 million on residential conservation programs this year. In addition to programs for low income households and the rebates for home energy efficiency improvements, this includes funding for incentives to build more efficient homes, a refrigerator buy-back program, seasonal rebates on energy efficient appliances and lighting as well as online tools to help customers understand their energy use and make simple behavioural changes to reduce their consumption.
  • FortisBC has applied to the British Columbia Utilities Commission to invest almost $12 million on residential conservation programs this year. In addition to programs for low-income households and the rebates for home energy-efficiency improvements, this includes funding for incentives to build more efficient homes, and incentives for energy efficient natural gas space and water heating appliances.



Media contact

Sam Oliphant
Press Secretary
Office of the Premier
250 952-7252

Jake Jacobs
Media Relations
Ministry of Energy and Mines and Responsible for Core Review
250 952-0628

BC Hydro Media Relations
604 928-6468

FortisBC Media Relations

About FortisBC
FortisBC is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, propane and thermal energy solutions. FortisBC employs 2,200 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC is indirectly, wholly owned by Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada.

About BC Hydro
BC Hydro has been providing clean, reliable power to British Columbians for more than 50 years while maintaining among the lowest rates in North America. BC Hydro is a provincial Crown corporation that serves 1.9 million customers and invests in the electrical system and in energy conservation to deliver a safe and reliable supply of electricity for today’s customers and for generations to come.