BANFF – The Town of Banff hopes to reignite its environmental rebates next year after they were suspended to save money during the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis.
The environmental and solar panel rebate programs are two of 16 initiatives in the proposed 2021-22 climate action work plan for council’s consideration at its annual review of municipal services and budget deliberations.
Officials say the environmental rebate program – which has covered items from high-efficiency dishwashers and fridges to rain barrels and programmable thermostats – has been popular since it was launched in 2007, but was suspended in April as part of COVID-19 budget cuts.
“Administration proposes to relaunch the environmental rebate program in January 2021 with adjustments aimed at increasing participation while reducing the Town’s administrative workload,” said Michael Hay, the Town of Banff's environmental manager, in a report to council at its Sept. 21 meeting.
“Proposed changes include adjustments to rebate amounts, greater clarity and guidance for residential and commercial applicants, and an online application process.”
The solar photovoltaic system rebate program, on the other hand, proved extremely popular in the first three years from 2015-18, but saw few applications in the past two years.
Trying to encourage production of renewable energy, the incentive program launched in 2015 with 14 solar systems installed. In 2016, seven were installed, and in 2017, 11 projects went ahead.
In 2018, six systems were put in, including a 10 kW system on the Hostelling-International Banff Alpine Centre.
“Administration proposes to relaunch the program in January 2021 with adjustments aimed at increasing participation, especially from commercial properties,” said Hay.
The way the program currently works bases funding on the size of solar systems installed on a home or businesses.
The Town provides eligible participants with a rebate of $750/kilowatt (kW) of solar capacity installed, to a maximum of 7.5 kW.
The incentive program is funded from the environmental reserve, which is generated through a franchise fee that Fortis pays to use the space under the streets to run its wires to provide electricity.