Ottawa Hydro joins warmth program

By Allison Taylor
A charity that helps pay heat and energy bills for low-income households will be keeping more home fires burning in Centretown this winter now that Ottawa Hydro has joined the team.

Share the Warmth is a program that relies on partnerships with relief agencies and hydro and gas utilities to offer energy assistance to people in need. The province-wide program started in 1995 and was launched as a pilot project last year in Ottawa-Carleton. The charity is expected to help more people this year with Ottawa Hydro’s assistance.

“Hydro Ottawa’s involvement is crucial to the success of the program,” says Edward de Gale, executive director of Share the Warmth. “Seventy per cent of people in Ottawa are electrically heated clients and this essential partnership provides us the opportunity to reach these homes as well.”

Last year, Ottawa Hydro didn’t make a commitment to Share the Warmth pending the amalgamation of Ottawa’s municipalities and hydro utilities.

There are a fair number of people who have difficulty paying their bills, especially in the winter months, says Owen Mahaffy, manager of customer relations at Ottawa Hydro.

“The numbers are considerable enough to be concerned and to participate in this program,” he says.

In order to qualify for energy assistance, potential clients must meet specific criteria and be low-income families, seniors, terminally ill, or disabled persons in a financial crisis. The program helped a handful of Centretown residents last year and de Gale says that number should increase significantly this year.

“We hope this year to help somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100 to 200 families in Ottawa-Carleton,” de Gale says.