City council approves energy efficient loans to help homeowners

Calgary homeowners will be able to get some financial assistance in 2022 as they try to make their houses more energy efficient.

Calgary joins other municipalities with program to cut emissions

Workers install solar panels on a Calgary home, a project that could now be financed by the new city program. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Calgary homeowners will be able to get some financial assistance in 2022 as they try to make their houses more energy efficient.

On Monday, city council approved the clean energy improvement program or CEIP.

It will allow homeowners to apply for low interest loans up to $50,000 from the city which they can tack onto their property tax bills and repay over 15 years. 

The list of potential projects include items like adding solar panels, increasing insulation, upgrading existing windows or buying a tankless hot water system.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities offers a program that could provide Calgary a $10 million low interest loan for the program as well as a $5 million grant.

The city will either borrow an additional $5 million or choose to finance that amount internally to complete the program's funding.

During the four year pilot project, the $20 million program is expected to help 720 homeowners with the cost of upgrades.

The goal is to incent homeowners to get the work done which will help cut down their utility bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create work for the approved contractors who will do the work.

Demand is there

Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Calgarians have been asking for a way to help them with the cost of doing these kinds of upgrades.

"There's a lot of people that have sent in emails and people that have come to us at public presentations as well about being able to leverage some of the dollars through their property taxes to make additions and changes to their own homes," said Gondek.

Council approved the proposed program on a vote of 14-1. Only Coun. Sean Chu voted against but he didn't provide any reason during debate why he opposed the plan.

Jessica Lajoie with the Alberta Eco-Trust Foundation is supporting the program.

She said the loans will help people with the cost of getting these upgrades done.

Solar powered rooftops could be a more common image of the future if Calgarians take advantage of the Clean Energy Improvement Program. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)

"Access to low cost financing is one of the barriers facing homeowners who want to control their utility bills," said Lajoie.

"This program will help some Calgarians be more resilient to shocks from energy prices and climate events in the coming decades."

Similar programs are already running elsewhere in Canada.

Edmonton as well as the towns of Devon and Rocky Mountain House are slightly ahead of Calgary in the process of setting up this program.

City administration still has work to do before the Calgary CEIP program to roll out.

It is estimated that the city could start taking applications from Calgarians in the fall of 2022.


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