County zapped by electricity rebate criteria
Ontario’s much-hyped electricity rebates don’t appear to be helping cash-strapped rural municipalities as much as anticipated.
The County of Lambton is anticipating it’ll save just about $165,000 in energy costs this year as a direct result of the province’s 8 per cent rebate that came into effect Jan. 1.
And despite the introduction of a new 17 per cent rebate – anticipated to come into effect this summer – the county is just projecting an additional $170,000 in savings through that rebate this year.
Those savings come from the 60 different county-run locations with electrical services.
“I was kind of amazed that you’ve indicated we’re only saving $170,000,” Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan told county finance staff during a Wednesday committee meeting.
The County of Lambton hasn’t seen more savings so far because only some of its buildings qualify for the 8 per cent rebate, said John Innes, the county’s general manager of finance.
Under provincial rules, the 8 per cent rebate is only available to residential customers, multi-unit dwellings in a residential complex, general service customers using less than 50 kilowatts and general service customers using more than 50 kilowatts if their annual usage is less than 250,000 kilowatts per hour per year.
For the County of Lambton, that means most of its social housing units and smaller properties, like ambulance bases, are receiving the rebate but not its larger non-residential locations, according to a staff report prepared for Wednesday’s meeting.
McGugan said his municipality is also struggling to capitalize on the electricity rebate.
“My arena isn’t covered, but my water and sewage plants are,” he said.
Innes said municipalities are essentially being asked to prioritize their electricity usage.
“From the province’s standpoint, you can choose to not run your arena, but you can’t not run your water plant,” he said.
County finance staff are trying to find out the province’s criteria for the 17 per cent rebate, Innes noted, but details have so far been scarce.
McGugan said it’s also been a struggle for his municipality to get more information about the rebate criteria directly from the province.
“I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on except the premier.”