VICTORIA – The Provincial Government tarnished its reputation as a climate change leader today as Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, announced the end of the wildly successful LiveSmart BC: Efficiency Incentive Program. The innovative LiveSmart BC program was directed at increasing the energy efficiency of homes across BC, an important step in meeting the province’s legislated emissions reduction targets. This latest step backward follows on last week’s announcement that the province was further increasing subsidies to the oil and gas industry by further discounting the royalties it collects on natural gas and oil resources.
“It’s ridiculous to initially encourage home owners to reduce their energy consumption and emissions, then eliminate a program which will help them do so, all the while subsidizing growth in the oil and gas industry,” says Will Horter, Executive Director of the environmental group, Dogwood Initiative. “If the province is serious about tackling climate change, they need to make a long-term commitment to support home energy reduction, and start to rope in the polluting industries.”
LiveSmart BC has already reached its three-year $60-million budget, and will not be renewed. The program completed 40,000 initial home energy assessments and 11,000 homeowners have completed efficiency retrofits in less than a year and half. LiveSmart BC programs included $2,000 PST rebates on new fuel efficient vehicles, up to $1,450 for new efficient furnaces and up to $260 for energy efficient hot water heaters. The program will come to an end August 15, 2009.
The province’s oil and gas incentive program announced on August 6 includes a $50 million boost to its existing $120-million infrastructure royalty credit program – which encourages development of oil and gas roads and pipelines, and reduced royalty rates on wells drilled from September 2009 through June 2010 to a one-year royalty rate of two per cent – compared to the average rate of about 19 or 20 per cent.
“These announcements raise serious questions about the government’s commitment to reducing heat trapping pollution by 33% (below current levels) by 2020 and 80% below current levels by 2050,” said Horter. “Does this also mean BC is backing away from its commitment that BC Hydro will meet 50 per cent energy demand through conservation by 2020?”