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City of Powell River endorses heat pump program

Rebate top-ups to be continued with $20,000 expenditure
2640_city_top-ups_Ana Lukyanova
ENCOURAGES PROGRAM: City of Powell River sustainability planner Ana Lukyanova outlined the benefits of converting fossil fuel heating systems to electric heat pumps at the city’s committee of the whole meeting.

City of Powell River council has voted to expend $20,000 from the climate action reserve fund to continue a program that provides rebate top-ups for residents converting to heat pumps.

At the July 15 city council meeting, councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said it has been a great program.

“The city did a first round in conjunction with other dynamic communities across BC,” said Leishman. “For the last two years we had allocated $20,000 to a first phase of this program, which gives additional top-ups to homeowners who are wanting to convert from a fossil-fuel heating source to a heat pump. It has been incredible.

“The first phase had 41 homes take advantage of the top-ups, with 20 of the homes converting from oil and 21 from natural gas to clean, efficient, electric heat pump systems. Those people are super happy. Now that we’re in the hot season they have cooling with those heat pumps as well.”

Leishman said she fully supports going forward and topping up another $20,000. She said staff’s recommendation is similar to how the money was allocated previously in that there would be $350 per electric heat pump top-up and $500 if the electrical service needs an upgrade in order to accommodate an electric heat pump. She added that there would be $350 for an electric heat pump water heater, and it is suggested that window and door top-ups receive $50 per eligible window or door being changed out, and $150 for an EnerGuide pre-upgrade evaluation top-up.

“It really helps our community, our homeowners, to upgrade their homes,” said Leishman. “This is one great way the local municipality can help homeowners directly, so I fully support this recommendation.”

Mayor Dave Formosa said the program also helps local businesses.

He said the fact that funds are being offered from the city for top-ups for these installations is helping climate change, so he asked if the city is able to take credit for any of those savings of emissions it is calculating to meet coming emissions standards.

Chief administrative officer Russell Brewer said he didn’t think it contributes to the city’s obligation to be carbon neutral as a corporate entity.

Leishman said it’s one of the only ways the city can help the community reduce its emissions. She said this is not calculated into the city’s corporate emissions, but it’s definitely a good thing.

At the July 13 committee of the whole meeting, sustainability planner Ana Lukyanova said the municipal top-ups were added to provincial rebates available through Better Homes BC. She said city council allocated $20,000 to heat pump rebates in February 2019 and that amount has been used. She said Better Homes takes care of the administration, which is a benefit.

“It’s a good way to raise awareness in the community,” said Lukyanova. “With the heat pumps, especially now that people are getting the benefit of air conditioning, it’s going to be popular. It’s a good time for those top-ups again.”

Councillor George Doubt said he is behind the program 100 per cent and it is a great idea to move what the city does on climate change out of the city hall realm into the community.

“I wanted to point out that particularly in these last few weeks, when heat is becoming a problem on the coast of British Columbia, where heat was seldom a problem before, one of the bonuses you get with a heat pump is air conditioning in the summertime when people need it. Climate change is upon us.”

For information on provincial programs, go to