PCs decry three-month wait for P.E.I. energy rebates

Islanders taking advantage of energy efficiency rebates to upgrade their homes or switch to a different heating source are waiting months to receive their money from government.

Government says retrofit, energy conversion programs are so popular staff can't keep up

The P.E.I. government says rebate payments to Islanders who install energy efficiency upgrades are taking longer because so many are applying. (CBC)

Islanders taking advantage of energy efficiency rebates to upgrade their homes or switch to a different heating source are waiting months to receive their money from government.

In the P.E.I. legislature Wednesday, PC MLA Brad Trivers said Islanders are being told by Efficiency PEI the wait will be three months.

"The longer it takes to get the rebate, the more costly it is to the applicant," Trivers said, asking Energy Minister Paula Biggar what the province is doing to reduce the wait time.

Biggar said there's been a 300 per cent increase in applications since April 1, with the total number now up to about 2,500. 

"We have hired extra staff to process those applications, and things are progressing so that we are making sure that those are gone out," she said.

PC MLA Brad Trivers says low-income Islanders can't afford to wait months for energy efficiency rebates to arrive. (Government of P.E.I.)

Trivers noted that the province offers bigger rebates to households with an income of $35,000 or less. Those rebates range from $900 on a new oil heater to $7,500 on a geothermal heat pump.

"That's just the rebate. This is great, but how can low-income households possibly afford to outlay that kind of cash and then wait for three months to … get their rebate back?" Trivers asked.

"Why did you implement an energy efficient equipment program that low-income Islanders simply can't afford to use?"

Biggar responded that 4,300 low-income clients have used the province's free weatherization program.

Green MLA Hannah Bell later tweeted her agreement with Trivers' line of questioning:

Other Islanders also registered their frustrations with the rebate program:

P.E.I. has made energy efficiency upgrades the cornerstone of its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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