Sunday, May 07, 2006

Ottawa Cuts Home Energy Efficiency Grants

Ottawa government has quietly axed a program to help low-income households cope with high energy costs.

EnerGuide for Low Income Houses (EGLIH), a $500-million, five-year initiative introduced with all-party support last November, is the 14th Kyoto climate accord program to bite the dust.

All climate change-related initiatives are being re-examined to make sure they will achieve results for Canada. The government decided not to continue with the delivery of the EGLIH program because they're looking at options. The organization has been told grants already approved under EGLIH will be honoured, but no new ones will be given. EGLIH is the last thing I would have imagined them cutting.

The program would have helped 130,000 low-income households cut their energy bills by an average of 30 per cent, while reducing individual household emissions by 30 per cent.

PM Stephen Harper has condemned the Liberals' Kyoto-implementation plan as ineffective, promising to replace it with a new "made-in-Canada" plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The government has already cut 13 climate programs, including the One-Tonne Challenge advertising campaign. Rumours of additional cuts are running rampant in the environmental community.

Green Communities, an association of 40 community groups, has written to Harper pleading for the home retrofit program to be preserved.

Without EGLIH, Canada will have no strategy to protect low-income households from escalating energy prices, and no strategy to engage these households in the effort to reduce energy-related pollution. But EGLIH is cost-effective and made-in-Canada is practical and realistic.

If EGLIH is cancelled, it will be a serious blow to a great many organizations, agencies and businesses that have invested their own resources in good faith to begin delivering the program.

The five-year EGLIH program is modelled on the popular EnerGuide program which provides subsidies for home-owners who retrofit their houses, but the incentives are more generous. The EnerGuide program remains in place for now.

No comment was available from PM's office or from Environment Minister.


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