More rebates for environmental products
Banff politicians have expanded the types of environmental conservation programs to qualify for residential rebates.
At a meeting Monday (June 25), town council approved a new $500 rebate for a high energy -efficient furnace, a $100 rebate for high efficiency 4.8-litre toilets and a $100 rebate for efficient front loading washing machines.
Town of Banff officials say remodeling the current rebate system will focus the remaining $35,712 on new ways to reach the municipality’s environmental goals and be a model environmental community.
They say the goal of the environmental rebate program is to encourage residents and businesses to make environmentally conscious decisions to decrease their environmental footprint.
“The popularity of the rebate program suggests that further opportunities for additional conservation efforts are in demand,” said Sarah Strand, Banff’s environmental assistant, in a report to council.
“The discontinuation of the federal and provincial rebate programs means residents and commercial property owners have lost a number of financial incentives to assist with the cost of energy-water efficient changes.”
Administration had recommended changing the rebate for a solar hot water system from $650 to $3,000 because the municipality has had no takers so far.
But Councillor Leslie Taylor voiced opposition to this one, saying it would cap the rebate to the first three homes that applied. The rest of council agreed with her.
“I don’t think this is a fair way to allocate public dollars – it’s giving a major schwack of public money to a very few people on a first-come, first-served basis,” she said.
“This is about fairness and so I’d like to leave it at $650, but make sure that people know that this rebate is available. If we had a demonstration on how it would work, it might get more uptake.”
In 2005, council directed any surplus revenue above the year’s budgeted amount for the ATCO Gas franchise fee go to a targeted fund for initiatives within the community that will increase energy efficiency.
In September 2007, council approved a residential energy efficiency audit rebate, and the following month, approved a residential toilet rebate fund. Each fund was allocated $20,000.
In 2009, council expanded the existing program to offer rebates to both the residential and commercial sector and included free water conservation kits for homes, high-efficiency dishwashers, rain barrels and programmable thermostats.
In June last year, council approved additional rebate offers for energy efficient fridges, windows, doors and solar hot water systems, but stopped the low flush toilet program, energy audits and free water conservation kits.
Chad Townsend, Banff’s environmental coordinator, said the commercial sector has not taken advantage of the rebates offered as strongly as initially presumed.
He said Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association indicated this may have been due to the fact businesses were not comfortable with making big purchases due to the instability of the economy.
“Since its introduction in 2009, there have only been four commercial businesses that have a received a rebate,” he said.
The most successful commercial rebate was for dual-flush toilet replacement. Council did agree to add a 50 per cent post purchase rebate for each high efficiency 4.8-litre toilet.
However, council did not support administration’s recommendation to remove the $5,000 cap for commercial rebates.
Coun. Taylor said she appreciates more businesses might take advantage of the rebate program, but again argued it was not a fair way to distribute public dollars.
“This is an incentive, not a way of paying for one property’s renovations,” she said.
“We want to see use of this money for improving environmental efficiencies and water conservation. I’m not comfortable with one person getting that much just because they happen to be the first person in.”
Coun. Chip Olver agreed.
“There’s only $35,000 in this fund and we’re not replenishing it,” she said. “It would be foolish to remove the cap.”
Rebates continue for several other energy efficient programs, including duel flush toilet replacement, rain barrels, dishwashers, programmable thermostats, refrigerators and window and door replacements.
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