VAUGHAN, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Jan. 25, 2011) - Working with social service agencies in York Region and Simcoe County, PowerStream is providing a comprehensive, year-round emergency financial assistance program to help eligible low-income customers across its service territory facing challenges with making electricity bill payments.

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a province-wide initiative developed by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) for low-income consumers of electricity in Ontario who are experiencing difficulty paying their bills. LEAP is based on the "Winter Warmth" program, previously offered by PowerStream, and is intended to supplement other existing financial assistance programs.

The program is offered through social service agencies and provides for one-time funding of up to $500 annually towards a customer's electricity bill payment. By offering LEAP through social service agencies, it ensures other essential needs are provided for by connecting individuals and families in crisis to the full range of available community services (i.e., employment and credit counseling, food and clothing banks) that can be of further assistance.

Intake social service agencies for eligible customers in PowerStream's service territory include the Canadian Mental Health Association of York Region and the United Way of Greater Simcoe County. These agencies will determine customers' eligibility for the program.

Customers in Aurora, Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan interested in applying for LEAP can call either 905-853-8477 (Ext. 4240) or 1-866-208-5509 (Ext. 4240). For customers in Barrie, Bradford West Gwillimbury, New Tecumseth, Penetanguishene and Thornton, the telephone number is 705-726-2301.

"LEAP has enabled us to broaden our support to individuals and families in need from what previously existed through our Winter Warmth program," explained Brian Bentz, PowerStream's President and CEO. "The funding has been increased and eligible customers can now receive assistance throughout the entire year as opposed to just the winter months."

Bentz also pointed out that conservation initiatives are offered as part of LEAP as well as more flexible customer service amendments on matters such as bill payment management and disconnection rules, providing additional resources and information to help customers in financial crisis better manage their electricity costs.

To ensure the funds support individuals in need, applications are assessed by intake agencies based on criteria established by the OEB such as having a pre-tax income at or below Statistics Canada's Low-Income Cut-off (LICO) plus 15%, confirmation of applicants billing status and ability to sustain their electricity costs after they receive assistance through LEAP.

About PowerStream Inc.

PowerStream is the second largest municipally-owned electricity distribution company in Ontario, providing service to more than 325,000 customers residing or owning a business in communities located immediately north of Toronto and in Central Ontario. The communities served include Alliston, Aurora, Barrie, Beeton, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Markham, Penetanguishene, Richmond Hill, Thornton, Tottenham and Vaughan. PowerStream is an incorporated entity, jointly owned by the City of Barrie, the City of Vaughan and the Town of Markham.

Contact Information: Media Contact:
PowerStream Inc.
Debbie Conte
Manager, Corporate Events and Community Relations
Media Line (24/7): 905-532-4400