Friday, April 2, 2010

EcoEnergy incentives cancelled (again)

As I had anticipated the Conservative Harper government (Canada) has again cancelled the home energy audit program. As of April Fools day 2010 all new audits will no longer attract federal funding. (Some provinces will continue their programs.)

It seems that the program was too effective at reducing unneeded energy costs for homeowners, and the pollution such waste creates.

Imagine if the education system was ended because people were getting better educated!

Of course there would come a time in which most people realised that the biggest incentive to updating their home or business energy-wise is to invest in making the needed changes. Then governments would have done their job in initiating this trend. But we're not there, not quite yet.

It is worthy of note that both the provincial and federal governments are spending increasing amounts of money into subsidizing the oil and gas industries, calling this "green" because of unproven technologies such as carbon sequestration, as well as building more highways (way more than cycling paths, public transportation, etc.).

Those who suffer the higher costs of rising energy prices (electricity in B.C. is supposed to increase 30% over the next three years), unless they are low-income folk, can only blame themselves for not looking ahead and acting now.

The lack of vision at the federal and provincial levels isn't helping.

Those reading this blog will likely be providing leadership in these regards by updating their homes, improving their transportation, and encouraging others to do the same.

Here's to these wise souls!

Green shifting the HST

While the vast majority of B.C. residents (and likely Ontario's, too) are opposed to the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax, a.k.a the Hated Sales Tax) there is a reason why, in principal, it is appreciated by green-minded folk.

The HST, if it is done correctly, can reduce unneeded spending and shift it to expenditures that are helpful for the planet, jobs, the long-term future of the economy, our kids, etc.

Very sadly the B.C. government, through poor planning or worse, is actually taking us in the opposite direction through the HST. How? The HST will reduce the price on motor vehicle fuels and home heating energy (the two biggest contributors to greenhouse gases, pollution, a dim future, etc.) and adding taxation on to things such as bicycles, green home/building renovation, renewable energy products, and the like!

When the BCSEA (BC Sustainable Energy Association) spoke to people at the Tax Policy Division, they learned that by keeping the subsidy, BC was forgoing $300 million a year in transport-related revenue, and $200 million a year in buildings-related revenue, money which could be used to fund the urgently-needed transition to sustainable transport and buildings.

I understand the Tax Policy Division is brewing a campaign to build public support for ending the 7% heating and transport fuels sales tax subsidy, using the $500 million a year income to create a Sustainable Transportation Transition Fund for transit, cycling, ridesharing, etc, and a Sustainable Buildings Transition Fund for energy efficiency retrofits, and free insulation for people on low incomes, etc. The restored LiveSmartBC budget for energy efficient buildings is a paltry $35 million over three years; ending the subsidy would supply $200 million a year for efficient buildings.

Ordinary people, faced with a 7% increase in the price of heat and fuel, could then use one of new funded programs to reduce their costs by 15-20%. This way, everyone wins - taxpayers and the environment.

This is what is called a "win-win" solution for those who are not lazy or prefer to complain, as those who act on this "tax shift" opportunity will be rewarded handsomely! As will the planet and our collective future.

If you wish to push for this change, I suggest that you write to

Hon Colin Hanson
PO Box 9048
Victoria BC
V8W 9E2
Phone: 250 387-3751
Fax: 250 387-5594

Letters to newspapers, e-mailing friends, etc. all help a lot.

Using taxation powers to bring about positive change only makes sense.