By Medicine Hat News on February 6, 2024.
The new round of energy conservation “HatSmart” grants is bigger this year after energy use surged in 2023 and provided an unforeseen windfall in revenue that funds the program.
A total of $255,000 was dispersed in 2023 in the program that pays a portion of building improvements, but the 2024 program will be worth a total $360,000.
Since the early 2000s, a surcharge on power and gas used above certain levels has been assessed the “Energy Conservation Levy” on bills that are channelled to the grant program.
But in 2023, that revenue was about 40 per cent more than expected, or about $100,000, and that will flow through to the program that is usually oversubscribed as home and business owners look to offset costs of bringing energy use down.
“In general there are no real dramatic changes,” Travis Tuchscherer, the utility division’s manager of marketing and business analysis, said at a committee meeting last week. “We do have an additional $100,000, and hopefully that allows it to serve more citizens, as the program is typically oversubscribed.”
The break down of category spending will likely remain similar as well, said Tuchscherer.
About 70 per cent of 2023 funding was awarded to retrofits for existing homes and 10 per cent to higher-efficiency new construction. Other 10 per cent shares went to subsidized required home energy audits and general “scratch and win” discounts.
Owners of existing homes can apply for up to $5,000 to recover a portion of costs to upgrade home insulation, windows, doors, or install solar panel systems, tankless water heaters or heat-recovery ventilators.
New builds that include design or materials to reduce energy consumption below a federal standard can receive up to $10,000.
In 2023 the program shifted funding available previously for appliance upgrades to construction-related projects, like improving the development of new home builds.