Feds chips in funds to help Calgary homeowners add solar panels, new furnaces

Solar panels are installed on a home in Cole Harbour, N.S., in this file photo. (Robert Guertin/CBC - image credit)
Solar panels are installed on a home in Cole Harbour, N.S., in this file photo. (Robert Guertin/CBC - image credit)

Four communities in Alberta — including Calgary — are the recipients of funds that will allow homeowners to take on home energy projects and add the cost to their property tax bill.

Last year, Calgary city council approved energy efficient loans to help homeowners. The federal government added additional funding on Monday, through its Community Efficiency Financing initiative:

  • $15M for the City of Calgary.

  • $5M for the City of St. Albert.

  • $3.8M for the City of Lethbridge.

  • $1.6M for Town of Canmore.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities had previously chipped in a $10 million low-interest loan for the program and a $5 million grant.

This investment will help communities implement new home energy retrofit financing programs — run through the Green Municipal Fund, said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal minister of Natural Resources.

It will allow homeowners to apply for low interest loans up to $50,000 from the city, which they can tack onto their property tax bills and repay over 15 years.

"To meet our climate goals, we need to retrofit about 70 per cent of all of the buildings that exist today that will still be standing in 2050," said Wilkinson.

The funds could cover high efficiency furnaces, basement and attic insulation, solar hot water systems or rooftop solar panels, Wilkinson said.

Approximately two-thirds of  greenhouse gas emissions in Calgary are caused by heating, lighting and power demands in buildings, said Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek.

"We know that Calgarians are concerned about climate change, and we are committed to building a climate resilient community."

Lethbridge Mayor Blaine Hyggen said that in that city 20 per cent of the funding will go toward supporting affordable housing providers.

"This means some of the most vulnerable members in our community will get to experience improved facilities, and those that provide them will get to upgrade their properties to offer more comfortable space to their clients."

Gondek said details on Calgary's program will be rolled out by the end of this year so homeowners will know about the application process for their planned upgrades.