The city is making it easier for Calgarians to make clean energy upgrades to their homes through a new loan program that ties repayment to the property, rather than the borrower.
The Clean Energy Improvement Program is designed to ease the upfront costs of certain home improvement projects, including solar panel installation, heating and air conditioning upgrades, and upgrades to hot water heaters and lighting. If the home is sold before the loan is repaid, the remainder of the costs would transfer to the next homeowner.
In a news release, the city said 65 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Calgary come from buildings. The program addresses the fact that many buildings standing today will still be around in 2050, which is when the city wants to reach net zero on its greenhouse gas emissions.
Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the city has heard from residents who want to make these types of upgrades, but can’t always afford the upfront costs.
“With what we’ve seen in terms of inflation, it’s just been a little bit tough for people to do the things that they wish to do,” said the mayor. “With this program available to them, they can upgrade the things they want to immediately and they can slowly pay it back through their property tax bill.”
Loan attached to property owner’s tax bill
Under CEIP, homeowners can qualify for a loan of up to $50,000 to cover the cost of upgrades. The city says it’s offering “competitive rates” and repayment terms up to 20 years, although homeowners can pay the loan in full without penalty at any time.
The loan is attached to the property owner’s tax bill. David Kelly, CEO of solar installation company SkyFire Energy, said that may be the key to getting more people to do solar power installations.
“A lot of people argue, ‘I don’t want to put solar on my home if I’ve got to move in five years,’ ” said Kelly. “With this program and the loan being with the house, if you live in a house for five years, you pay your five years on the loan and then the next owner will pay their five years on the loan.”
He said the cost of adding solar power to the average residential home ranges from $8,000 to $15,000.
Kelly said there are also other federal loans and grants available.
“Solar makes sense today,” he said. “Especially with the grant programs and with the loans, it’s cheaper than grid power.”
CEIP rolled out throughout Alberta
According to the city’s website, the program has a limited amount of money to loan out. Currently, the program is worth $15 million.
CEIP has already been rolled out in eight other municipalities across Alberta, including Lethbridge, Edmonton and Canmore. Alberta Municipalities is the third-party administrator of the program.
Cathy Heron, president of Alberta Municipalities, said Calgary is emerging as a provincial leader of the program.
“It’s the largest program in the province to date, providing funding for hundreds of residential energy efficiency and renewable energy projects over the next four years,” she said in a news release. “Alberta Municipalities is proud to serve Calgarians as the administrator of the program.”
Details on the loans can be found at Calgary.ca/CEIP .