5,000 homes would be switched to geothermal energy free of charge

WINNIPEG - An NDP government would cover the entire cost for 5,000 families to switch their homes to geothermal energy, New Democrats have promised.

If elected on Oct. 3, the NDP will pay for the equipment and installation of new geothermal systems at 5,000 homes, St. James candidate Adrien Sala announced outside a St. Boniface home that previously made the switch. 

The homes that switch to geothermal energy could save as much as 50 per cent on their electricity bills, Sala said.

"It will save you money, it will grow our economy and it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And I think we can safely call that a win, win, win," Sala said.

Geothermal energy is derived from heat that is generated within the Earth.

The NDP said each conversion to geothermal heating and cooling would cost an estimated $26,000, and it would take four years to complete all 5,000 conversions.

The program would be administered through Efficiency Manitoba, the Crown corporation responsible for conserving energy. The NDP estimates it will cost $32.5 million annually over the four years. Some of that money would support the training of more contractors who could install geothermal systems.

Subsidies get low pickup: NDP
Sala wouldn't say Wednesday which homeowners or types of homes would be eligible.

He said the NDP's plan would be a first in Canada.

"What we've seen elsewhere is where other jurisdictions have used a strict subsidy model, where they try to reduce the cost of geothermal. We really haven't seen a lot of uptake in those other jurisdictions," Sala said.

"This is an attempt at dealing with one of those key barriers for homeowners."

Efficiency Manitoba runs a subsidy program for geothermal energy through ground source heat pumps, valued at up to $2.50 per square foot. It is estimated a 1,600 sq. ft. home switching from an electric furnace to geothermal will receive a rebate of around $4,000 and save around $900 annually on their electricity bills, the Crown corporation said.anitoba homeProgressive Conservative spokesperson Shannon Martin questioned how NDP Leader Wab Kinew can afford his party's numerous election promises.

"He will have no choice but to raise taxes, and history shows the NDP will raise them all," said Martin, the McPhillips MLA who isn't seeking re-election.

Wednesday's announcement was the first for the NDP in which Kinew wasn't present. The party has criticized the Progressive Conservatives for leader Heather Stefanson showing up for only a few announcements a week.

Sala said Kinew was busy preparing for the debate later in the day.

"This stuff is near and dear to Wab's heart, and frankly, I think he's probably hurting that he's not here with us right now."


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