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    Categories: Environment

Province offers eco-bucks for businesses

St. Albert business owners say they plan to cash in and save money on energy through a new provincial rebate program announced this week.

Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips announced the start of the province’s new energy efficiency rebate program for businesses, non-profits and institutions Thursday.

The new program lets organizations such as schools, co-operatives and individual businesses get rebates on select energy-saving products such as LED lights, motion sensors, boilers, variable frequency drives and heaters. It is not open to large industrial emitters.

Albertans are excited about saving energy, with tens of thousands having signed up for the province’s previously announced energy efficiency programs, Phillips said.

“These programs save money, they reduce our carbon footprint, they make life better for all Albertans.”

The $10 million program will give applicants up to $60,000 worth of rebates per facility on a first-come, first-serve basis, Phillips said. Cash for the program comes from the province’s carbon levy.

A daycare that replaced 36 fluorescent lights with LEDs under this program would save about $230 a year, said Monica Curtis, CEO of Energy Efficiency Alberta.

Unlike the consumer rebate program announced last month, this new one requires participants to send in receipts online before they get a rebate. Any product on the province’s list of qualifying products bought after last March 24 is eligible for cash back.

While some products on that list also qualify for rebates under the consumer program, Alberta Environment press secretary Brent Wittmeier said businesses, non-profits and institutions were not allowed to double-dip and try and get rebates under both programs.

Money-maker, say locals

Evan Jamison, plant manager at the Gazette press, said he was very interested in this rebate program and attended an information session on it earlier this week.

“We have a hard time raising prices, and if we can’t get our prices higher, we have to attack it on the cost side, and one of the biggest ways to do that is to be really efficient at what we do.”

Jamison said the Gazette spent close to $250,000 on electricity a year, and any cuts to that he made would make the company more competitive. He planned to replace the lights in the Gazette’s parking lot with LEDs because of the rebate.

Alberco Construction owner Ron Simonsmeier said he had already switched most of his lights to LEDs, but was interested to see what this new program could do about his 30-year-old cast-iron boilers. He estimated that he’d cut his building’s power use by about 35 per cent through different efficiency measures.

“We like to take advantage of any energy savings we can in the building whether it’s supported by the province or not,” he said, as that lowered operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon tax was an additional incentive, as it had raised his gas bill by about 20 per cent.

St. Albert Inn general manager Michael Mazepa said he swapped almost all of his building’s lights to LEDs years ago, saving money on energy and replacement costs and improving illumination.

“If I can save money by putting in lighting that’s going to save me energy … am I not best to do that? The technology is there. Utilize it. Do it.”

The program is expected to create about 280 full-time jobs and save Albertans $32.8 million over the lifetime of the products it installs, the province reports. It should also prevent about 195,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – equivalent to taking about 30,000 cars off the road for a year.

Visit efficiencyalberta.ca for details.

Kevin Ma: Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.