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Energy-efficiency loan program launched in Newfoundland and Labrador

Peter Upshall, an energy management engineer with Newfoundland Power, demonstrates how such items as heat pumps and insulation can help keep a house warm and save on electricity costs.
Peter Upshall, an energy management engineer with Newfoundland Power, demonstrates how such items as heat pumps and insulation can help keep a house warm and save on electricity costs.

Homeowners in Newfoundland and Labrador will let a lot of heat out of their houses Tuesday when handing out Halloween treats at the door.

It could be a ghoul reminder, however, that it’s time to look at ways to heat the home more efficiently and — for those who use electric heat — to reduce electricity consumption, particularly in light of rising electricity rates in coming years when power from Muskrat Falls comes online.

The provincial government announced Monday the launch of the Energy Efficiency Loan Program, which provides eligible participants who use electric heat in their homes with a low-interest loan of prime plus 1.5 per cent (currently 4.7 per cent) for up to $10,000.

The financing can be used for energy-efficiency home upgrades — specifically the purchase and installation of heat pumps, and basement and attic insulation, and to conduct home energy assessments for homes reliant on electricity for heating.

The provincial government is providing a total of $4 million for the program — $1 million to begin the program this year, and a further $1.5 million in each of 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Participants can make monthly loan repayments on their electricity bills over a five-year period.

Premier Dwight Ball said Monday the program addresses a key barrier to the uptake of energy efficiency — access to upfront capital to purchase and install upgrades.

“This is really an extension to a number of programs we’ve put in place to give families the opportunities to manage their electricity cost,” Ball told members of the media. “We cannot accept, and families cannot accept, the fact that electricity rates will double in Newfoundland and Labrador over three or four years. This is a way to help mitigate that, and it comes with many of the initiatives already in place.”

The program is fully funded by the provincial government and will be delivered in partnership with takeCHARGE — an energy-efficiency initiative of Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

In addition to Ball, the launch event was attended by Eddie Joyce, minister of municipal affairs and environment; representatives from program partners Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro; and representatives from the Canadian Homebuilders’ Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, whose members will benefit from the extra work generated by an expected uptake on the program of about 4,000 applications.

“Since taking office, we’ve been firmly focused on mitigating the burden of Muskrat Falls on ratepayers in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Ball said. “The doubling of electricity rates for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is not an option, and it’s not a path we want to see Newfoundlanders and Labradorians take.”

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