City to offer heat pump energy rebate

City council allocated $30,000 in the 2016 budget to establish a City of Port Alberni energy rebate program.

The City of Port Alberni will offer a $500 oil to heat pump energy rebate program for residents who choose to replace their less efficient oil heating systems with heat pumps.

City planner Scott Smith provided city council with a report during the Jan. 23 council meeting stating that the province of British Columbia has initiated an “Oil to Heat Pump Incentive Program” to accelerate the adoption of heat pumps. The program has an incentive of up to $1700 and is administered by City Green Solutions for the Province of B.C.

Smith recommended leveraging the provincial initiative by providing a local “top up” incentive to eligible applicants in Port Alberni to effectively and efficiently distribute the energy rebate program to the city.

City council allocated $30,000 in the 2016 budget, coming from the Municipal Carbon Fund, to establish a City of Port Alberni energy rebate program, and the city’s Food, Security and Climate Disturbance Committee made three recommendations to council regarding implementation of some potential residential energy rebates.

“We think it’s going to be a big stretch to try and implement all three programs that were suggested,” said Smith. He recommended that the city partner with City Green Solutions, since they have been managing the provincial program, as well as other local government programs, including Campbell River and Nanaimo.

“In discussions with them, some of the uptake from other communities such as Campbell River hasn’t been as high as expected,” said Smith. “So it’s suggested that we enter into this for a one-year term.”

This, said Smith, would allow the city to provide a $1000 rebate on top of the $1700 provincial rebate for one year, then return a full report to council with the uptake and advantage.

“And then there would still be money left for council at that time to see, do we want to continue this on,” said Smith. “Is this a good use of our money, or do we want to put it to a different type of energy rebate program.”

The city planner recommended that the program be implemented within the 2017 budget year, noting that the provincial rebate program end date is March 31, 2018, or when the funding is exhausted—whichever comes first.

Councillor Jack McLeman jokingly suggested, “I’m all in favour of this if we retroactive it three years.”

He further explained that he put in a heat pump, and has noticed the difference. “I don’t really think that we really need to do a whole lot of topping up. It is a bit of expense to put in, but the saving is quite large. I had oil, and just as we put in the heat pump, Co-op topped up my oil tank. I haven’t had to buy oil now, at all, for three years.”

Councillor Sharie Minions suggested changing the municipal top up to a $500 rebate instead of a $1000 rebate, as it will allow the city to continue the program longer. The rest of council agreed.

Councillor Chris Alemany said that a lot of this program will have to do with education. “We need to make sure that people know about it. Hopefully it’s something like the woodstove exchange program, which has been really successful over the years. And it will help our air quality, as well.”

For more information about the incentive program, visit