Wednesday, 08 March 2017 14:37

Not the best use for our tax dollars

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At the beginning of January the NDP government in Alberta rolled out its carbon tax.

Before the first bills had even arrived in the mail, government officials in the first two weeks announced that rebates to qualifying Albertans were already on their way.
On top of the rebates, money earned through the carbon tax is meant to be re-invested into finding ways to lessen reliance on non-renewable sources of fuel.
Sounds good on paper, but a recent reinvestment of this money announced by the Province sounds more like a make-work project than anything else. It is also not the most fair way to dole out what is taxpayers’ money.
At the end of February, the government announced its new Energy Efficiency Alberta program. Albertans can register for the “Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program.” Those who do will be contacted by a third-party company called Ecofitt. This company is being paid by the government to come into homes and literally help change lightbulbs.
Rubbing your eyes, because you think you didn’t read that right? Nope, you did.
Officials with this company will come to your home, and install efficiency products such as LED lightbulbs, high-efficiency shower heads, faucet aerators and “smart” thermostats to replace the non-programmable kind.
They’ll even help install advanced power bars, just in case one can’t handle figuring out that the larger prong goes into the larger side of the receptacle.
While it’s nice to see the government paying for these items, how many households have already shelled out hundreds of dollars to do this work themselves?
Government officials were light on the information around just how much this program will cost taxpayers. The bill won’t be cheap with some pundits estimating it to be about $21 million. Some Alberta households require this kind of assistance in order to ensure they are saving the most money they can on their power bills, but what happens when there are complications in the process? In some homes it’s not as easy as simply screwing in that lightbulb.
First, these company representatives are going to have to travel. Many people live in remote, rural locations so they better have all the equipment they need to get the job done in one trip, as well as a good vehicle to navigate some rough roads.
What happens in older homes? Let’s face it, if some Albertans have been unable to afford home improvements and renovations, then they likely haven’t upgraded their electrical systems. Will the government be paying for the cost of upgrading knob and tube wiring in these homes so the newer technology, such as programmable thermostats, can be accommodated? Does it seem fair that a neighbour should get that paid for by tax dollars when a different neighbour has already paid for those kinds of improvements out of his own pocket?
When does the money run out? At some point, will there be a list of names of people who want this service, but it will take so long to get through it and be so expensive that half of them will never see the benefits?
Government officials are hanging their hats on the fact this program not only will save money with energy savings seen over the long-term, but also that it is creating jobs. Ecofitt will be hiring individuals to help deliver the programs.
There are other ways to offer incentives to Albertans to upgrade components in their homes without paying a company to come and do it. How about if a resident can prove efficiencies have been made — maybe with some grant funding received for low-income Albertans — then they are offered some relief on their energy bill from the carbon tax. That would be keeping money in Albertans’ pockets, as opposed to taking it away and handing it back in dribbles and drabs if you can even figure out how — or find the desire — to qualify.
Interested in the Alberta program? Find out more information online at:
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact her with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor