March 27, 2006
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Premier Bernard Lord announced today a full rebate of the provincial portion (eight per cent) of the HST on electricity and other home-heating sources. He also committed to bringing regulation to the gas and home-heating-oil markets in the province.
The Energy Action Plan has 14 key points, and includes more than $100 million in energy-relief measures.
Regardless of the outcome of a hearing by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) on NB Power's electricity-rate application of 11.4 per cent, government will cap the rate increase at eight per cent. If the PUB recommends a lower rate, government will agree to it and go ahead with its tax rebate on the provincial portion of the HST. If the recommended rate hike is higher, government has budgeted in such a way that it will absorb any amount over eight per cent.
This means that for residential homeowners there will be no increase in their power costs, regardless of what the PUB recommends. The rebate program on the provincial portion of the HST will negate any actual increase.
The HST rebate program will also apply to heating oil, natural gas, firewood, and propane used for heating purposes. The program is effective July 1, 2006.
"We have heard the clear message from New Brunswickers that they need some assistance to meet the ongoing challenges of energy costs," Lord said. "I am very pleased with the package we have put together, and we believe that it will help enormously in providing much-needed relief to New Brunswickers."
Lord added that he hopes homeowners will take advantage of even more programs that will be available through Efficiency New Brunswick, which will have its budget increased to $11.9 million, and will include assistance to small and medium-size businesses, as well as a program aimed at mobile home owners.
"We are very pleased that homeowners will be able to make a positive difference in their dwellings that will save energy and help the environment at the same time," Energy Minister Brenda Fowlie said. "The action plan is a comprehensive package that will have far-reaching, positive results."
Finance Minister Jeannot Volpé said that the steps taken through the HST rebate program will help many people, regardless of how they heat their homes.
"This program will not only help those who use electricity, but also those who have other means of heating their homes. As we know, prices have gone up in all of these energy sectors, and this program reflects that," Volpé said.
Gasoline and home-heating oil regulation will fall under the auspices of the PUB, which is being modernized and given greater responsibilities that will include heating oil, propane, natural gas, and diesel.
In addition to the measures taken on HST rebates and gas and home-heating oil regulation, the Premier outlined a number of measures regarding NB Power. They include:
In addition to the actions outlined by the Premier, government will develop the next phase of the energy policy, as nearly every action item in that plan has been completed.
The Premier also mandated the departments of Finance and Energy, in conjunction with NB Power, to begin the work on a feasibility study for a second nuclear reactor at Lepreau.
Energy Action Plan items:
MEDIA CONTACTS: Chisholm Pothier, Office of the Premier, 506-444-2286; Vicky Deschenes, Finance, 506-453-2451; Marc Belliveau, Energy, 506-444-5912.