Energy commission backs off baseboard heat plan
New Brunswick's energy commission is backing away from a proposal that would have banned electric baseboard heat in new construction.
The energy commission released its final report in Fredericton on Tuesday.
Bill Thompson, a former deputy minister of energy in the Bernard Lord government, and Jeannot Volpé, a former Progressive Conservative finance minister, toured the province in recent months canvassing citizens about their views about the energy sector.
Thompson said the reaction to the baseboard heat crackdown was nearly unanimous during the commission's public consultations.
"That didn't go over very well, to say the least," Thompson said.
The commission's interim report suggested the provincial government ban electric baseboard heaters in new homes. The proposal was meant to address the issue that electricity is a more expensive heat source.
"Somehow it got out that it was to ban and remove existing baseboards, which became very unpopular," Thompson said.
"And a large number of our feedback emails and calls went to that very question."
Now the commission wants the provincial government to "encourage" a shift away from baseboard heat, and "work towards" eliminating it in new construction.
But Thompson and Volpé are still pushing natural gas as an alternative to heating homes.
The commissioners say it'll be a good "transitional" energy supply while the province develops more renewable sources such as wind.
And they recommend the provincial government make changes to how the cost of natural gas is regulated so it can be used more widely.
The commission received 1,400 online surveys from citizens, more than 200 public dialogue attendee surveys, met with more than 60 groups and received almost 75 public presentations.
The plan contains more than 50 recommendations. The goal is to create an energy strategy for the next 10 years.
Energy Minister Craig Leonard told the legislative assembly on Tuesday that many of the proposals will be adopted by the Progressive Conservative government.
"We will now move forward with many of the recommendations in the report and will commence the necessary analysis of others that will require a longer timeframe to review," Leonard said.
"Overall, I am very pleased that we will have a New Brunswick energy plan that incorporates the knowledge and opinions of residents from all areas of the province."