Views: 110 Author: Withair® Publish Time: 2017-08-18 Origin: Withair Group
Home heating checks and subsidies to ease the burden on people struggling to replace old wood burners cost Environment Canterbury nearly $173,000 in the past financial year, new figures reveal.
A total of 102 subsidies were granted by ECan to Timaru residents, to help them cope with the cost of putting in a new heat pump or wood burner after ECan told them older fireplaces had to be replaced.
Fifty-six subsidies were granted for heat pumps and 46 were granted for wood burners, the highest number of subsidies in three years.
Timaru Budget Services co-ordinator Don Macfarlane said he was pleased the message seemed to be getting out there- but he had a number of clients who were still worried about the financial effects the policy would have.
"I know that some people are very, very worried about it, especially older people who can't quite get their heads around how it works and what they are up for."
There were also older people in the district who still mistrusted "electric heat" and were worried about what would happen if their power was cut off, Macfarlane said.
ECan councillor Peter Scott said the rate of people applying for subsidies gave ECan a pointer to how big the issue was across the district.
"We are going to use that information when we sit down with the Timaru District Council at the end of this fire season," he said.
"Just because spring is here doesn't mean the issue is going to go away."
Initially, Macfarlane thought the issue had been handled "appallingly" and there had been a paucity of information when it came to financial support.
However recently there had been more publicity about how to apply for financial assistance, which was helpful, Macfarlane said.
According to information released under the Official Information Act only one person who applied for a subsidy this year was declined.
People needed to provide proof of low income to be eligible for a subsidy, such as a community services card, being within $5000 of having a community services card, or receiving working for families assistance or disability support.
Macfarlane said he remained concerned that the heat pump subsidies had been taken off local heat pump retailers and given to one business, EnergySmart.
"It's not competitive. One of the things we teach people is to shop around, a) to get the best possible deals, and b) to get the best possible advice and expertise."
Air quality director Katherine Trought said in a statement last week ECan had entered into a contract with EnergySmart as they had experience dealing with vulnerable communities and could "offer a more comprehensive package to get a warmer healthier home".
However it was possible retailers would become part of the scheme again in the near future, due to the demand for subsidies.
Trought said on Monday no applications for resource consent for "retrofitted" electrostatic devices had been received - but if people did install them subsidies for the devices were still a possibility.
"If an application was received and a resource consent was granted, there would be potential for the subsidy criteria to be reviewed in the future," she said.
The council collected $176,591 in targeted rates for the clean heat programme in the last financial year, and accumulated a further $10,353 from interest, ending the year with $14,038 in reserves.
Thirty-five of the buildings the subsidies were received for the past financial year were tenanted, while 67 were owner-occupied.