NDP proposes 'Keep the Heat' program for homeowners

The NDP continued its week-long flurry of election announcements Thursday by unveiling energy-efficient plans for Newfoundland and Labrador homeowners.
NDP Leader Earle McCurdy announced his party's plans for homeowners at an older home in St. John's that he said would be among those that stood to benefit from the NDP's policies. (Mark Quinn/CBC )

The NDP continued its week-long flurry of election announcements Thursday, by unveiling energy-efficient plans for Newfoundland and Labrador homeowners. 

Leader Earle McCurdy says the policy will help offset the extra costs that will come when electricity starts flowing from the Muskrat Falls project. 

There's a whopping increase in power bills coming to consumers once Muskrat Falls comes online.- NDP Leader Earle McCurdy

The highlights of the NDP plans include an increased focus on energy efficiency through rebate programs, free energy assessments and more support for low-income households.

The party plans to create a "Keep the Heat" program geared towards making home energy improvements easier for households with an annual income under $100,000.

Under the new program, they will receive a free home energy audit, along with a rebate of up to $2,500 for the installation of items like heat pumps, energy efficient windows and insulation .

Homeowners that make major energy upgrades to their home between $5,000 and $25,000 would also be eligible to receive low-interest financing.

"There's a whopping increase in power bills coming to consumers once Muskrat Falls comes online," said NDP Leader Earle McCurdy.

"A lot of people are already struggling to pay the current bills, and the government can't just leave them high and dry," 

The announcement was held at an older home in St. John's, the type that McCurdy said could benefit most from the new program.

"It represents a type of housing in the city that would have significant energy upgrade needs," he said.

Plans will also benefit low-income houses

In addition to the new Keep the Heat program, the party plans to raise funding for the province's Residential Energy Efficient Program by $2 million dollars.

The REEP program gives homeowners with yearly incomes of less than $32,500 the opportunity to receive a one-time grant of $3,000 in Newfoundland and $4,000 in Labrador, to retrofit their home with energy efficient improvements. 

McCurdy says this additional funding will be able to help an additional 500 low-income homes each year.

Polices will help offset power rate increases

The announcement comes as the Muskrat Falls project continues to experience cost overruns, and ahead of expected power rate increases.

"That's a huge problem for people in this province, and we need a concerted effort to get ahead of that, the key to that is trying to sell the power."

"I don't think there was enough attention paid to the impact on the people of the province who will be paying the bills, before a decision was made to go ahead with this massive project," said McCurdy.

The NDP says the policies announced today are designed to curb the impact of these price increases. 

The new policies will come at a cost of $8 million per year, with $6 million going towards the new "Keep the Heat" program, and an additional $2 million towards the REEP program. 

Live blog

​Get continuous updates from the campaign trail through our live blog.