June 20th, 2024

City clean energy program offers financing for home improvements

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 1, 2023.

Solar panels are seen on the roof of a southside home. Submitted photo

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The City of Lethbridge has opened applications for the Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP), which will provide homeowners with a financial tool to support energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to their properties.

CEIP allows homeowners to apply for low interest financing from the City, with repayment collected through property tax bills up to 20 years, depending on the expected life of the improvement. There is also an option to repay it in full at any time without penalty, and the financing can be transferred to the next owner if the home sells.

The program, which has been in development since 2018, is administered by Alberta Municipalities in partnership with the City of Lethbridge. This project is being carried out with assistance from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Green Municipal Fund, an endowment created by the Government of Canada.

The City of Lethbridge has received $3.8 million from FCM to support the implementation of CEIP for residential properties. During the four-year pilot project, the program is expected to help an estimated 180 homeowners with the cost of upgrades.

Mayor Blaine Hyggen spoke to media Tuesday, and said the city is aware of how important clean energy strategies are for the future of its families.

“Reducing waste, usage of water and other renewables and non-renewable resources, will help us to better manage our commitment to environmental stewardship and save us money on our utility bills in the long run, while creating work for local contractors,” said Hyggen.

He said that to drive this important initiative, the city of Lethbridge, in partnership with Alberta municipalities and the Government of Canada, has created the CEIP, which benefits homeowners and businesses.

“I encourage you to visit the CEIP link on the lethbridge.ca website, to see all the eligible products and services that are contemplated in this program,” said Hyggen.

 He said some of the products include upgrading windows, doors, adding solar panels, increasing insulation, upgrading light fixtures and installing tankless hot water systems.

 “If you’re a local contractor that can offer the high efficiency and renewable energy products and services, I definitely encourage you to register to become an approved supplier, and by registering as an approved supplier you enable us to support your efforts locally.”

Executive director of Environment Lethbridge, Kathleen Sheppard, congratulated the City of Lethbridge for launching the CEIP and for its foresight in being the ninth community to adopt this program and show leadership.

“At Environment Lethbridge we know that one of the big barriers for homeowners when it comes to energy efficiency and renewable energy is the upfront cost, so this program is a way for homeowners to really manage that cost, to invest in some of those improvements that they have maybe been looking at but they have been a little bit out of reach,” said Sheppard.

She said they are excited knowing that there will be an uptake in those projects and they will see conservation of energy in our city, and hopefully a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“From an environmental perspective, I really think this is a win for the city of Lethbridge and very excited to see it move forward.”

Participants must install eligible upgrades with a minimum cost of $3,000 to qualify for financing. Availability is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. There is a maximum of $50,000 of eligible costs per property, but the annual Clean Energy Improvement Tax cannot exceed the property’s annual municipal property tax payment. Many of the upgrades require permits from the City and money will not be advanced unless proper permits are in place. 

For those interested, the first step is to review the program terms and conditions and submit a pre-qualification application. Homeowners must then complete an EnerGuide home evaluation to learn about their home energy performance and understand their best options for home improvements. Working with a qualified contractor under the program, the homeowner will then submit a project application with their proposed upgrades.

Visit ceip.abmunis.ca/Lethbridge and review the terms and conditions for eligibility details.

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