Consumers wait for details on Alberta’s energy efficiency program

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WATCH ABOVE: The lack of clarity on what will and won't be included in Alberta's energy efficiency rebates has one local business owner frustrated. Vinesh Pratap explains.

The Edmonton Renovation Show is taking place this weekend and vendors are hopeful the Alberta NDP’s energy efficiency incentives will boost business.

“I like energy efficiency,” said one guest. “I’ve always liked the idea so I like to see what’s new out there and it’s becoming more cost effective.”

In a few months, it will be even more cost effective. The province is rolling out a series of energy efficiency rebate programs and that has some consumers holding off, waiting for details about the rebates, which are expected in March.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said the first set of programs will give homeowners the chance to receive LED light bulbs and low-flow shower heads at low cost or even free. They will also be able to apply for rebates when they buy energy efficient appliances, such as stoves, dishwashers and refrigerators. There will also be a program for businesses and non-profits to get rebates on larger energy efficient products like boilers and heating and cooling systems.

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READ MORE: Alberta says energy efficiency incentives ready by March 

Keven Lackey owns Acclaimed Heating, Cooling and Furnace Cleaning. He says business is down compared to previous years, leading to reduced hours and in some cases, layoffs. But he doesn’t think the slowdown is because of the economy; he thinks it’s because people are waiting to see if they can save some money through Alberta’s energy efficiency rebate programs.

“Instead of announcing little bits and snippets on the program, I think it would be better not to announce things like that until such time they really know what’s going on,” Lackey said.

While he’s very supportive of the idea of an energy efficiency program, he would have liked all the details released sooner.

“For the last six months, literally, I’d say at least 50 per cent of our clientele are holding off in hopes there might be a rebate on the high-efficiency furnaces.”

But residential furnaces are not currently included in the province’s rebate program.

“Furnaces are not in that one, that consumer program,” said David Dodge, the chair of the Energy Efficiency Alberta panel. “But our third program is business, non-profits and institutions… and heating systems and hot water systems and all that sort of good stuff – humidifiers – are in that program.”

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READ MORE: Alberta government launches panel for energy efficiency advice 

So, why are furnaces included on a business scale but not a residential scale?

“I really can’t answer that specifically,” Dodge said. “The expert panel was a really qualified panel and they probably made that decision based on metrics and ease of introduction to the program, those kinds of things.”

The three energy efficiency programs that have already been announced are: Residential No-Cost Energy Savings Program (no-charge installation of energy efficient products to residences, including assessment of household lighting, water and heating), Residential Retail Products Program (rebates to residential customers at retail outlets) and Business Non-Profit and Institutional Energy Savings Program (incentives for high-efficiency products from a comprehensive list, including the purchase and installation of electric and gas-based products like lighting, heating and cooling systems and hot water systems).

READ MORE: Alberta launches program offering green grants to non-profit groups 

The province will spend $648 million over the next five years on energy efficiency products and programs.

The money will come from the new carbon tax, which is increasing the cost of gas at the pumps and hiking fees on home and business heating bills.

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With files from The Canadian Press and Vinesh Pratap, Global News