Nova Scotia Energuide rebates could end

NOVA SCOTIA - A provincial energy efficiency program that has helped almost 30,000 Nova Scotians is under review.

The agency that manages EnerGuide for Houses — Conserve Nova Scotia — will cease to exist April 1.

EnerGuide offers subsidized energy efficiency evaluations. Under the program, property owners can qualify for provincial rebates by improving their home's energy efficiency to a maximum of $1,500. Homeowners have 18 months to complete retrofits and receive a follow-up evaluation.

A portion of the program was previously funded by the federal government, but that was discontinued in March of 2010. Anyone registered after April 1 of last year has only been eligible for provincial rebates, with the average around $815.

Bret Willmore, one of those who took advantage of EnerGuide, can't understand the government's reluctance to keep it going.

Thanks in part to the rebate, Willmore's home is no longer an icebox.

Insulation and airtight windows have cut his power bill by 20 per cent and his oil bill by 30 per cent.

"It just made it affordable," said Willmore. "The rebate almost covered the entire cost for the insulation for the outside, so it was kind of a no-brainer for us."

Willmore said he doesn't understand why there isn't more emphasis put on how homeowners can reduce their energy consumption, rather than on so-called 'green' government incentives to oil companies and Nova Scotia Power.

"I think we can make a bigger dent in the energy consumption... there's so many better ways we can spend that money and to get the homeowners themselves educated on what we can do will make a bigger difference," said Willmore.

"Everybody I've ever talked to that's had this home energy audit done — it's well worth it. With future energy costs going up, there's no doubt that they are going to continue going up... you know, anything that we can do at all to eliminate some of these costs in the future," said Willmore.

The province has a new energy efficiency organization, but right now it is focused solely on cutting electricity use.

Efficiency Nova Scotia's Allan Crandlemire can't say whether other existing programs will come under its control.

"It's government's decision which programs to fund and then we'll look after managing those programs once government has made that choice." said Crandlemire.

A review of by Dunsky Energy Consultants has recommended Efficiency Nova Scotia take over EnerGuide and most of Conserve Nova Scotia's other programs.

Energy Minister Charlie Parker said that some of the programs will be transferred, but he refused to say which ones.

"We're going to have an announcement certainly before then on what programs will be kept and which perhaps may go to other government departments, probably some improved programs as well," said Parker.

"We're still commited to energy efficiency for Nova Scotians, getting low income people protected, getting Nova Scotians in general off of carbon fuels and good programs — perhaps even better — will be continuing."

Liberal energy critic Andrew Younger said the Dexter government needs to let Nova Scotians know if it plans to kill popular energy efficiency programs.

"If the programs are not moved over to Efficiency Nova Scotia it means that energy retrofit programs, vehicle programs, anything that is not directly related to electricity will die," said Younger.



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