Efficiency Vermont surprised by loss of N.B. residential rebates

Officials at Efficiency Vermont are surprised the Efficiency NB residential rebate program they inspired is being cancelled.

Model growing in popularity south of the border, officials say

The agency that inspired Efficiency NB's rebate program for homeowners is surprised to hear the program is being cancelled.

George Twigg, the director of public affairs for Energy Vermont, says the popularity of similar grant programs has been increasing in the New England states, and also in the southeast U.S.

He says there's a lot of political support for efficiency because of the pressure to provide services at a lower cost.

"Because efficiency is the least expensive source of energy, that has to be really baked into their plans for operation. So efficiency is a mandate because it starts with that mandate to keep costs at a minimum," he said.

Last week, Efficiency NB announced it is winding down its residential program due to budget cuts. The government agency was allotted $8.7 million in the provincial budget for 2014-15, down from $11.6 million this year.​

As a result, homeowners will no longer be offered up to $6,000 in rebates for projects that make their homes more energy efficient, such as insulating basements and replacing drafty windows, said CEO Margaret-Ann Blaney.

Efficiency NB will cut off applications for the residential program at the end of February, she said.

NB Power will be taking over electricity conservation programs in the province.

Twigg says some states use a similar model, with utilities running their programs, but the quality varies widely.

"Some utilities are good, and have a real commitment to the success of the programs. Others are not as successful," he said.

It depends on the commitment the individual utilities make to provide a high level of service to their customers."