December 1, 2022

McKenzielee Blog

Wicked Clever House Experts

Financing program for clean energy home improvements gets green light

4 min read

City council voted Monday to allow the city to borrow up to $15 million to launch the program next fall

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Calgary homeowners could soon access financing from the city to complete clean-energy improvements to their homes that can be repaid through their property taxes.

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City council voted Monday to allow the city to borrow up to $15 million to launch the program next fall, which is expected to support up to 720 residential projects for projects like solar power installation, upgraded insulation and high-efficiency heating.

Coun. Peter Demong said the program will help homeowners lower their energy costs with the help of a low-cost loan that can be repaid through their property taxes over a term of 15 years or more.

“This is an excellent program that I see is going forward in several other Alberta municipalities, other cities in Canada,” Demong said.

“It is a great way for somebody to lower the eventual cost of electricity — which if you’re looking at your bills, is starting to creep up — so it is certainly something that I think a lot of people are going to be interested in.”

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The city says the program will be treated as a pilot project and hopes it will encourage more Calgarians to make energy-efficient upgrades by taking some of the sting out of the high upfront cost of retrofits. City staff have estimated the average eligible project will cost around $21,000 — though projects valued up to $50,000 can be financed through the program.

Approval for the program will be based on property tax payment history and not a credit check. And with long-term repayment periods and low-interest rates, the city says it hopes those who might not have otherwise qualified for traditional low-cost financing will be able to take advantage of the program.

Similar programs are already operating in cities like Toronto and Halifax. Three other Alberta municipalities, including Edmonton, are in the process of establishing clean-energy financing.

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City staff members say they are also looking at potential for commercial property-focused versions of the program in the future.

But some city council members expressed reservations about the city getting into the green financing business.

Ward 13 Coun. Dan McLean said he will be watching to see the results of the pilot program.

“My concerns were (about) the city getting into the banking industry,” said McLean following Monday’s meeting. “We already have banks, we have the provincial and federal governments with (green) programs. So my questions and concerns were, what were the implications and costs to the city itself?”

City administration said the first four years of the program’s operating costs will be supported by a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Ultimately, only Coun. Sean Chu voted against the project.

Residential and commercial buildings contribute 65 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions in the City of Calgary, according to municipal data.

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Twitter: @mpotkins

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https://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/council-green-lights-clean-energy-home-improvement-program