Clean energy programs need a reboot to satisfy provincial legislation
Pincher Creek’s town and MD councils are redoing their clean energy improvement bylaws owing to a legislative technicality, according to their energy project lead, Tristan Walker.
Both councils must rescind their bylaws, passed by town council last August and MD council last October, and then go through the bylaw process a second time.
The original bylaws set eligibility criteria for property owners looking to finance energy improvements to their homes and businesses through Alberta Municipalities’ Clean Energy Improvement Program.
What’s the CEIP and who pays for it?
Eligible property owners can apply for loans from participating municipalities and then pay off the loans in instalments tacked onto their property taxes. Under the terms of the program, the loans would be tied to qualifying owners’ properties rather than the owners themselves.
If passed a second time, the CEIP bylaws would authorize a $2.1-million, four-year program, after which Walker said both councils could decide to continue the program.
Walker was applying for $1.7 million in loan and grant funding for the program when he realized the town and MD had tripped on a legislative snag in Alberta’s Municipal Government Act.
Neither municipality put its CEIP bylaw to a public hearing as required by the MGA, according to Walker’s March 30 report to MD council’s April 11 agenda.
CEIP bylaws get a mulligan
MD council voted April 11 to rescind its 2022 CEIP bylaw, after which it gave first reading to the new bylaw. Walker said council was tentatively set to host the requisite public hearing at its last regular meeting in May.
Town council is due to rescind its CEIP bylaw at chambers April 24, after which council will put its new bylaw to a public hearing.
If both councils re-pass their bylaws and Walker’s loan and grant applications are successful, the remaining $400,000 in available CEIP loans would be available to qualifying owners at no cost to the town or MD.
Walker said the town and MD would encourage eligible property owners to put their CEIP loans towards structural upgrades like energy-efficient windows and insulation, new and more energy-efficient furnaces, etc., before supplementing their energy needs with solar panelling.
The town and MD have yet to finalize a cost-sharing agreement, but Walker said the respective councils were eyeing a 50-50 split.
With files from Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Shootin’ the Breeze.