County zapped by elec­tric­ity re­bate cri­te­ria

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS - BAR­BARA SIMP­SON bsimp­son@post­

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.”

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