PORT HOOD: The municipality has agreed to take part in a program that will provide financing to homeowners willing to conduct energy efficient upgrades.

Referring to a presentation earlier in the summer from the Clean Foundation about the home energy assessment program, Special Projects Facilitator Maura Beaton said this is a Federal of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) program.

“This borrowing resolution is to solidify the amount of funding from the FCM for $150,000 per year in loan money for a total of $600,000 for a four-year period,” Beaton told council. “It’s a zero interest rate and the money will be used to subsidize an (administrative) fee for homeowners who enroll in the program.”

In response to a question from District 5 Councillor Lynn Chisholm, Beaton told the regular monthly meeting of Inverness Municipal Council in Port Hood on Sept. 1 that the program is not income-based.

“They’re enrolled in the program, and then through their property tax, they’ll be assessed,” Beaton explained.

Finance Director Tanya Tibbo told council this is a revamped version of the former Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

“Through this program, it allows the municipality to borrow the money so we don’t have to put the money up front as a cost because we’ll be the ones that are paying for the upgrades, and then in turn, we’ll be billing the property owners,” she explained. “It doesn’t affect our ability to borrow from the Municipal Finance Corporation so it doesn’t affect your Financial Condition Index and your debt affordability.

“We’re not going to borrow $600,000, but if we do get that much interest in the program, we don’t want it to affect to our cash flow.”

Tibbo noted there are other programs for low income residents.

“It’s just based on your ability to pay the annual bill,” she explained. “And if they don’t pay it, it’s a lien on your property.”

Responding to a question from District 2 Councillor Blair Phillips, Beaton said the program involves work like new insulation and lighting.

“The program facilitates a home energy assessment. So they’ll send someone to their house to look at heat pumps, windows; that type of thing,” she replied. “They’ll put forth recommendations and they’ll put forward grants that are available for reimbursement. Then the homeowner will decide which of those actions to take forward.”

Beaton said the program allots a maximum of $15,000 per household.

“We can take a maximum of 10 households per year if we get that level of interest,” she noted. Council voted unanimously to approve a temporary borrowing resolution to participate in the program.