Thunder Bay·Audio

New program helps people save money on electricity

The AffordAbility Fund Program aims to help those who don't qualify for provincial energy-efficiency programs for low-income people but who still struggle financially, according to Thunder Bay Hydro.

Applicants can qualify for everything from LED lights to new appliances and insulation

Tim Wilson of Thunder Bay Hydro holds some of the energy-saving devices available to some customers under the AffordAbility Fund Program. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

Thunder Bay Hydro launched a new program Friday aimed at helping people save money on their electricity bills.

The AffordAbility Fund Program aims to help those who don't qualify for provincial energy-efficiency programs for low-income people but who still struggle financially, said Thunder Bay Hydro vice president of customer service and information services Tim Wilson.

Those who qualify for the program can get free energy-saving upgrades to their homes, ranging from LED lights and drying racks for clothing to bigger ticket items. 

"Level two then moves into things like appliance replacement," Wilson said, "and if you're electrically heated then you move into what we call level three, which is insulation, potentially a ground source heat pump, we get into some really deep, as we call them, deep measures within a home."

People can apply for the program at AffordAbilityFund.org or call 1-855-494-FUND.

"And then they'll get a follow-up phone call and have a trusted conversation, not with a utility person, [but] someone who's experienced in having what we might deem difficult conversations with people about income and about energy affordability to gauge their eligibility through the program the rest of the way," Wilson said.

Program staff will then dispatch a contractor to qualifying applicants' homes to assess it for upgrades.

Hydro anticipates helping around 600 people through the program, Wilson said.

It will also be available in Atikokan, Fort Frances, Kenora and Sioux Lookout. 

Funding for the upgrades comes from a trust established by the Ontario government last year, Wilson said.