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Six Ontario utilities and United Way join together to assist those in need during winter months


    Winter Warmth will provide up to $650,000 in heating bill relief

    TORONTO, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - Six of Ontario's largest energy utilities, in
partnership with United Way, today announce the launch of the 2007-2008 Winter
Warmth program, which will provide up to $650,000 in financial assistance to
individuals and families struggling to pay their winter heating and hydro
bills.
    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 begin
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.

    How the Fund Works

    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.

    Eligibility

    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.