City Hall Watch: Will Calgary Get a Clean Energy Improvement Program?
Update: CEIP Bylaw goes to Council Monday, December 6. Read the Hub's written submission here.
Calgarians involvement in the fight against climate change could be significantly bolstered by a new funding program
On September 13th, 2021, the City Council approved the advertisement of bylaw 53M2021, better known as the Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP) bylaw. This bylaws aims at the creation of a funding program that would help to finance clean energy-related work and retrofitting for Calgary homeowners. The CEIP would be a local implementation of a broader initiative, the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) which started in the USA in 2008.
A recent poll shows 63 per cent of Calgarians believe Calgary’s future as a vibrant city is at risk if we do not become a leader in addressing climate change. In the same way, 57 per cent of respondents want Calgary to chart a course for a more sustainable and resilient city by investing in the transition toward clean energy. A way to address this issue would be to improve the energy efficiency of residences or invest in individual clean energy solutions. However, the main obstacle that prevents homeowners from making this leap is high upfront costs. The CEIP would address this issue by providing a loan to cover the cost of the project, up to $50,000. The eligibility of the project and selection of suitable contractor would be determined on a case-by-case basis by the City. After the completion of the project, the loan would be repaid through the homeowner’s property tax.
The implementation of such a program would be facilitated by several key points. Firstly, the program is already successful in other jurisdictions in the USA and Canada. Existing literature supports the positive effect on energy saving, property value and limited risk for the homeowners compared to other financing solutions (see the 2020 report by the Pembina Institute). Also, the Climate Change and Environment municipal team, which oversaw the development of the bylaw, indicated that a significant part of the work done to tailor the program to Calgary’s situation is based on discussion with their colleagues from Edmonton that approved their own CEIP in August. In this way, the development of Calgary's CEIP benefited from the lessons learned by the other cities. Moreover, the program could be funded through several federal funding solutions for up to $15M, allowing supporting an estimate of 750 projects initially.
The approval of the CEIP in Calgary would be a significant step in the daily struggle to save energy and reduce Calgary’s greenhouse gas emissions. But the main interest of this project is that its success could be used as a proof of concept to leverage more funding for low-carbon projects and progressively increase the scope of these clean energy initiatives. Finally, the job creation and demand boost to the green technology industry associated with this project fits perfectly with the recommendations of the COVID-19 Economic Resilience Task Force.
The final vote for this amendment is planned for December 2021. As we still have a few more weeks until election day, we need Calgarians to keep your municipal candidates accountable on climate change issues. That includes this project and all the other ways they plan to sustainably support the economy and invest in healthy communities.
To read the poll results referred to in this post, click here.
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