Rising energy costs complicate federal carbon pricing plan, advocates say
November 24, 2022
By The Canadian Press
An affordable energy advocate says the imposition of consumer carbon pricing in Nova Scotia is a good idea, but adds that rising energy costs continue to pose problems for people with lower incomes.
Brian Gifford, chair of the Affordable Energy Coalition of Nova Scotia, believes most people will be helped by the federal government’s plan to provide quarterly rebates to offset carbon pricing costs, beginning in July.
The rebates will see households in Nova Scotia get $248 with every payment, while those in the other two provinces where carbon pricing was imposed on Nov. 22 — Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island — will see rebates of $328 and $240 respectively.
But Gifford said even more help will likely be needed.
“In this time of high oil prices, especially, and rising electricity rates, there is still going to be a problem for people,” Gifford said in an interview on Nov. 23.
The carbon price is expected to add an initial 17.4 cents per litre to the cost of heating oil.
Gifford said a $250-million federal grant announced on Nov. 21 that was meant as another offset to help people switch from home heating oil to electric heat pumps will also help, but only marginally. The money is in addition to an envelope of $250 million over four years that was announced by federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault in September to assist people with home heating costs.
“It (the grant) doesn’t work for lower-income households because they can’t pay their share of the costs,” said Gifford, who added that a grant of up to $5,000 is not enough on its own to switch to a heat pump.
Increasing demand for heat pumps is also a potential complication, said John Devereaux of Ground Hog Geothermal and Heat Pump Ltd., which serves customers in the Annapolis Valley and Halifax Regional Municipality.
Devereaux said the phone at his business has been “rung off the hook” with recent demand. He said there’s currently a six-month waiting list for service.
Devereaux said there is also a lack of technicians available to install heat pump systems. He said about a dozen companies in the province are actively trying to hire qualified workers. Ground Hog has 10 technicians, and Devereaux said he could easily put “another four to work no problem.”
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