Miramichi, N.B. man criticizes ‘blundered’ NB Power energy savings program

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Miramichi, N.B. man criticizes ‘blundered’ NB Power energy savings program
WATCH: A Miramichi, N.B. man is frustrated he doesn’t have access to a provincially and federally funded home energy efficiency program. That’s because the program reached capacity within days of it being announced. Suzanne Lapointe reports.

Miramichi, N.B., homeowner Brian Proulx signed up for NB Power’s Enhanced Energy Savings Program within days of its announcement in late September.

After months of waiting for an answer, he was shocked when he received a letter from NB Power on Jan. 17, stating the program was “fully subscribed” for the rest of the fiscal year.

The program, which is funded by both the federal and provincial governments, allows households bringing in less than $70,000 needing major energy efficiency upgrades to receive them free of cost.

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Proulx said in an interview on Wednesday that it can cost between $500 and $600 a month to heat the home in the winter months.

His house is heated via a hydronic heating system with an electric boiler.

Handyman Proulx has done extensive work to the 1970s bungalow he shares with his roommate, who is co-owner of the house, as they are retirees and would like to stay as long as possible.

Proulx used over $50 000 from his and his roommate’s RRSPs to cover home improvements, such as redoing the plumbing and electrical wiring in the house.

He and his roommate get by on a combined income of roughly $46,000 from their pensions.

“The house is basically quite comfortable, except that it needs some things that I … I had no money left to do, and that was basic insulation in the ceiling which is my number one priority, there are two windows that need to be replaced, and I never considered this mini split that they’re talking about in their program but the first time I saw it I said, ‘Well, that’s pretty good,'” he said.

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A spokesperson from NB Power sent Global News a statement on Tuesday, stating there was “overwhelming interest in the program. NB Power has received over 13,000 applications for the program and the $30 million budget should allow us to upgrade approximately 3,000 homes in total for the 2022-2023 year.”

The statement read that those who are eligible for the program were automatically put on a waitlist for the next fiscal year, for which the budget is still up in the air.

“Final budgets have yet to be confirmed for 2023-2024, but the $10 million committed will allow us to cover 1,000 homes,” the statement read.

Proulx said he finds it perplexing that applications for the program are still open with a waiting list of over 10,000 applicants

“What happens to that 10,000? Are we just thrown aside? And in the meantime they’re taking in more applications for another program?” he said, referring to a separate program announced in December for baseboard heater and oil heating customers.

“I’m left wondering, am I just going to be forgotten?” he said.

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