Alberta may scrap natural-gas rebate program
The province is considering scrapping its natural-gas rebate program, which has refunded an average of $316 million a year to Albertans over the past six years.
Alberta's natural-gas rebate is triggered when the price hits $5.50/gigajoule (GJ) between October and March. The program is credited with paying out a total of $1.9 billion in rebates overall.
Now it's under review and may end in March.
"It's time for the province to take a look at the program to determine how it's benefiting Albertans — to look at it in the context of the new provincial energy strategy and determine next steps," said Alberta Energy spokesman Jason Chance.
Duane Bratt, who teaches political studies at Calgary's Mount Royal College, said Albertans need to feel the full effect of gas prices to help curb usage and make the province greener.
"I think they are going to scrap it. It's a program that should have never been put in place in the first place," he said.
"By artificially immunizing people from the effects of natural-gas price increases, it didn't have an effect on efficiency or usage, so basically they were being compensated to use more."
Calgary resident Wanda Pickett, who lives on a fixed income, said scrapping the program would be unfair to those who need the rebate the most.
"Those that can pay, go ahead and charge them," she said. "That would be a nice change. Don't punish us. We are already in trouble."
Pickett said her gas bill is growing every month
"I don't know how one is supposed to cope with this stuff. If I don't have some help, somewhere, than the grocery list takes the kicking."
Officials with the province said they will consider how this rebate helps those on fixed and low incomes before deciding what to do with the plan.