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Heat pump program extension considered by Powell River council

City councillors hear proposal to add $30,000 to top-up fund
EMISSION REDUCTIONS: City of Powell River has been providing grants to people converting from oil or gas heating to heat pumps since 2019 and city councillors will vote on whether to allocate another $30,000 to help residents convert.

City of Powell River council will consider allocating $30,000 from the climate action reserve fund to continue funding a municipal rebate top-ups program for installing heat pumps.

At the August 16 committee of the whole meeting, sustainability planner Ana Lukyanova said the provincial CleanBC Better Homes program is in place for homeowners to upgrade their homes for better energy efficiency and they also allow individual municipalities to contribute top-ups to those incentives to further encourage people to upgrade.

“We’ve been providing those top-ups since 2019,” said Lukyanova. “We’ve had 68 homes take advantage of the program. There were 38 that switched from oil and 30 from natural gas to clean heat pumps and that has a big benefit in a dramatic reduction in CO2. The footprint of a home heated by a heat pump is almost negligible when compared to gas or oil.”

Lukyanova said the city allocated $20,000 to the program in 2019 and in 2021; it was topped up with another $20,000, so there has been a total of $40,000 allocated from the city.

“We’re at the point where it has been nearly exhausted and so we’re coming to you to request more money from the climate action reserve fund,” added Lukyanova.

Mayor Dave Formosa said he was taking note of the number of homes and the savings in greenhouse gas. He was wondering if the city gets credit for its mandate targets from these savings.

Lukyanova said the city just gets the benefit of reduced emissions.

Committee chair councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said the program has been successful at helping the community reduce emissions.

Councillor Jim Palm said it’s known that this is the way of the future. He said having read the staff report, the city had contributed $40,000 in two previous allotments, and the request was for another $30,000, adding up to $70,000. He asked if Powell River needed to take the allocation to $30,000, or would $20,000 fit the bill.

Lukyanova said the first $20,000 allocated in 2019 took the city through until July 2021, which was more than two years, and the next $20,000 was spent over the last year.

“We’ve seen the pace of retrofits accelerate,” said Lukyanova. “The province doubled their rebate temporarily from $3,000 to $6,000, plus the city’s top-up, so a lot of people took advantage of that. For the purpose of making sure we have enough funding, and to not have me come here every five months, we thought that $30,000 would be an appropriate amount.”

Councillor George Doubt said he was willing to entertain the additional allocation of $30,000 to help people who are going to switch to heat pumps.

“It's a great idea,” addedDoubt.

Leishman said the program is a good incentive and it has been running for a few years.

“Now, word of mouth is getting out there finally,” said Leishman. “The $30,000 is a good amount to put forward.”

The committee voted to send the matter to city council for consideration.


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