Posted by: Rob | March 20, 2009

Goodbye Natural Gas Rebate

Wow.  Things do move fast sometimes.  I just wrote about how we take things like our utilities for granted and in the news today, the Alberta government has announced that it’s scrapping the natural gas rebate program.

Some of my “favourite” quotes from our short-sighted politicians:

Energy Minister Mel Knight told the legislature the province decided not to renew the program, which was to expire March 31, because it was prudent to save money during an economic recession and to encourage energy conservation.

But the money came from resource royalties, didn’t it?  Royalties on a resource that belongs to all Albertans?  So, the government wants to take this money and spend it on other things, it seems.

“We think the way forward is to move on efficiency and conservation so there will be pieces that will fit together that will assist in those areas,” he said.

Can’t argue with that.  Let’s have the details on “those areas”.

Knight noted the program – which has paid out nearly $2 billion in rebates since its inception – hadn’t paid any rebates in the past two months because the price of gas remained below the trigger price of $5.50 per gigajoule.

On Thursday, for example, gas traded at $3.93 per gigajoule.

Well, duh.  In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the middle of a global recession.  Industry, arguably the biggest single user of natural gas, has cut way back on consumption of natural gas.  With lower demand comes lower market price.  (Which, for us, is apparently set in New York for some reason that escapes me.)

“If you go forward and look to pricing for natural gas in the fiscal year we’re discussing here, there is very likely going to be zero or very little impact with respect to that program,” Knight later told reporters outside the assembly.

“We’re not talking about taking anything away. There isn’t anything to take away.”

Yeah, for now.  Wait until there’s a recovery and demand goes way back up.  Along with the price per gigajoule.

He said the province also didn’t like the universality of the program — the fact that it gave rebates to people who could afford to pay the increased home heating costs.

Oh.  So the fact that the resource belongs to ALL Albertans doesn’t mean everyone is entitled to a rebate?  Nice.

But he maintained that seniors and people on fixed incomes won’t suffer — even though no new program was created to help them pay their heating bills.

“If there are individuals who can’t afford to heat their homes in Alberta I would suggest to you we would be prepared to assist in those cases,” Knight said.

When a reporter asked if those people should call his office for help, Knight responded: “Our office doesn’t operate those types of programs.”

Typical politician double speak.  “We promise to…….nope!  Gotcha!”

NDP Leader Brian Mason said it is “nonsense” for the energy minister to suggest there’s any protection available for people who can’t pay their home heating bills.

“This is an energy program to help people cope with sky-high energy prices,” he said. “Energy prices are not sky-high now but they probably will be again within a year or two and then those people will have no protection whatsoever. They will freeze in their homes while this government is insisting on paying its bureaucrats an enormous bonus – and that’s wrong.”

Mason, you were going good…and then you tied in the totally unrelated “bonus” issue looking to score more political points.  Dumbass.

Liberal energy critic Kevin Taft, who had announced on the eve of the last provincial election that his party planned to replace the rebate program with one that focuses more on energy conservation, said the program really just subsidized energy companies because the money was paid to them and not to consumers.

“Help people who are genuinely in need,” he said. “Frankly, a person living in a mansion shouldn’t be getting any kind of consideration for a rebate – never should have.”

Taft said the program was “well-intentioned, but badly thought-out.”

Taft: The resource belongs to ALL Albertans.  How do you justify picking and choosing who gets cheap gas and who doesn’t?  Doesn’t seem fair.

Alberta Energy spokesman Jason Chance said the government is prepared to take another look at a rebate program if prices spike in the future.

Always looking for an out.  I guess that’s how the PC’s have managed to hold onto power for, what is it now?  Thirty years?  Or more?

Well, it looks like I need to get serious about building that off the grid home I’ve been talking about for a while now and dust off the plans.  It would give me no small amount of pleasure to tell the natural gas company, the electric company and the water and sewer people to take a hike.


  1. You go, baby. Give ’em hell.

  2. We have an even bigger problem out here.
    It’s called Eishkom.
    And an ANC government.

  3. Ours is called Tim (cut all the transportation funds and give me $30 license plates) Eyeman. We’ve lost so much revenue because the legislature caved in to his initiatives, and now we are sucking hind tit. I can proudly say I’ve only signed one initiative with his name on it, the one declaring him a horse’s ass.

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