While many Albertans have been eagerly awaiting the first of six $50 electricity rebate reductions promised by the province, a segment of condo owners were disappointed to find out they live in buildings deemed ineligible for the program.
Phil Rosenzweig lives in the Rio Vista Condominiums in Lethbridge, which he said has 124 units and nearly 300 residents, all of whom will not receive the rebate. The building is 55+ and he said the average age of residents is nearing 80.
“This building, most of the larger buildings in Lethbridge — and many of the other places in the province — will not be getting a rebate, strictly because they’re a single meter building,” he said.
With just one meter tracking the electricity used in Rosenzweig’s building, it doesn’t qualify under the limit of 250 megawatt hours used within the past year. So residents do not qualify for the assistance, even though they cover their individual utility costs through their monthly condo fees.
“As a total, none of us are using more than the limit, but because they’re grouping us as a single building, the building” has surpassed the limit, Rosenzweig said.
If Rio Vista residents were eligible, the $50 rebate that extends through to December would total more than $37,000.
“If you live in a townhouse, or if you’re living in a condo and you pay your own electricity bill, you’ll get the rebate. But the rest of us will not. We don’t think that’s fair, and Minister Nally’s department has created two classes of condo owners.”
Rosenzweig sits on the board of directors for the Condo Owners Forum Society of Alberta (COF), which penned a letter to Dale Nally, associate minister of natural gas and electricity, earlier this month.
COF estimates that there’s more than one million condo owners in Alberta, and Rosenzweig believes as many as half of those are single meter buildings. He said that many larger buildings that were constructed more than 20 years ago utilize one meter.
In a statement to Global News, Associate Minister Nally said, “Thousands of condo and apartment units are among the more than 1.9 million homes, farms and small businesses that qualify for the electricity rebate, and many have already received their first rebate this month. Sub-metered residences do not qualify for the rebate, as they are not directly connected to the distribution system and sub-metering providers aren’t regulated by the Alberta Utilities Commission.”
Nally said that while not every consumer will qualify for the electricity rebate, it’s one of several energy affordability programs that the province has implemented.
“Our primary goal for the rebates was to deliver the program as efficiently and effectively as possible in terms of the costs, timeline and burden to ratepayers. A bill-based program through regulated providers – which requires a direct connection to the distribution system – was determined to be the most efficient and effective and with minimal burden on consumers,” Nally said.
Read more: Alberta electricity rebates to start in July
NDP leader Rachel Notley said at a news conference in Calgary on Friday, that efficiency is not a valid excuse.
“Not only were they dragging their feet in the decision and in the administration of the decision, they’ve also been very sloppy in the design of this solution,” Notley said.
“In my view, efficiency is not applicable if part of that efficiency is secured by excluding tens of thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of Albertans who need this rebate perhaps the most. So this is a fundamentally unfair program.”
According to Nally’s office, 1.9 million homes, farms and small businesses qualify for the rebate. The reduction will start appearing on July bills, and the province says some consumers have already received their first rebate.