Ontario has finally made an important step in the right direction by enabling municipal loans to homeowners so they can afford energy efficiency upgrades. This will help Ontario families save money, permanently, on energy bills. As Environmental Defence put it, it just became easier to save money and help the planet.
Rather than the expensive and short sighted energy-handouts promised by the Liberals, NDP and Progressive Conservatives, it is essential that Ontario invest in programs that help people save money by saving energy. This new program borrows heavily from the Green Party of Ontario’s long term energy plan.
It’s clear that improving energy efficiency saves money over the long term. The challenge is securing political leadership to champion it. And finding the money to help people invest in efficiency upgrades.
Like our province many households can’t afford to take on more debt. Others simply aren’t sure they’ll be staying in one place long enough to recoup the investment.
Enabling municipalities to provide loans, backed by liens on the property itself, solves both problems without exposing taxpayers or ratepayers to higher costs. It’s rare in a province as large and diverse as Ontario that we get such a clear example of a win-win. The only downside of this development is that Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Kathleen Wynne took so long to take action on this common sense solution after the Liberal government killed the successful Home Energy Savings Program in 2011.
Homeowners can benefit immediately through savings on energy bills, and by access to lower cost loans than they can get as individuals. The province and cities benefit by putting off increases in electric generating capacity since better insulated homes don’t need as much air conditioning in the summer or heat in the winter. Taxpayers and ratepayers benefit by not being exposed to higher costs or risks. Since the loans are backed by priority liens (on the properties themselves), they are secure.
This program can weather economic storms, and costs nothing, especially when compared to the $1 billion/year taxpayer funded “Clean Energy Benefit” boondoggle that will only produce ever higher interest payments from deficit spending.
As of today Ontario’s cities can create energy efficiency loan programs for their residents. This is a recent change so I encourage you to contact your mayor and encourage them to implement a loan program as soon as possible. It’s a no-brainer. There is no reason for delay.
This is another perfect example of why Ontario need’s Green MPPs at Queen’s Park. The Green Party has been calling for a program just like this for years. Prince Edward Island began providing loans in 2008. New York State did it in 2009.
It’s unfortunate Ontario families have had to wait this long to start saving money.