There are over 270,000 households in British Columbia facing energy poverty, a lack of affordable access to the basic energy services that contribute to quality of life. Rural, remote, and Indigenous communities in the province are being hit particularly hard, with some communities spending up to three times the provincial average to heat their homes. A report released in March 2020 by Ecotrust Canada explores a number of drivers of energy poverty in British Columbia, and identifies several key areas where policies and programs can be improved to better support communities pursuing resilient, clean and affordable energy systems. These priorities represent our intention of moving B.C. away from being a jurisdiction known for higher levels of energy poverty and inequitable energy access, toward a vision of fair and inclusive energy access for all – a vision for energy security.
This report explores a number of drivers of energy poverty in British Columbia’s rural, remote, and Indigenous communities. Since its inception in 2017, Ecotrust Canada’s Community Energy initiative has worked with communities that are facing significant economic barriers due to high energy costs, and has been collaborating to build more resilient and affordable energy systems. This
report includes summaries of three real-world case studies completed with our community partners throughout 2019 based on experiential household surveys and collected energy use data. These case studies highlight the experiences of households in the province that are facing disproportionately high household energy bills as a result of factors including remoteness, housing quality, and access to energy sources. Based on this research and our ongoing policy work, we have identified several key areas where policies and programs can be improved to better serve the needs of those who currently lack equitable access to basic energy services.
In this report, we examine five factors that contribute to energy poverty in B.C. and we propose five areas of focus for future policy research and engagement. These are summarized below.