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The not-so-invisible hand

22 May 2024 | News Roundup

Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault just Xed out that “#DYK that in 2022, more heat pumps were shipped to BC (37,800) than natural gas furnaces (30,700)? This was a first for the province and shows us that the clean energy future is rolling in!” No. It shows that the subsidies are rolling in; as one firm in the business puts it, “The terms of heat pump rebates in Canada vary from program to program. They are constantly changing, providing incentives to larger groups of citizens.” And a day later Blacklock’s Reporter informed us that “The federal cabinet yesterday approved $103.7 million in subsidies for homeowners who switch from natural gas furnaces to electric heat pumps, but only in British Columbia.” The province’s Trudeau-friendly NDP government faces an election this fall and is slipping behind in the polls. And the federal NDP is propping up Guilbeault’s minority regime. So the clean energy future looks like more of the dirty politics past.

The grift even extends to a government-subsidized advocacy tank which says “Existing federal and provincial rebate programs, as well as the price of carbon, support the cost competitiveness of heat pumps.” Which of course really means that they are not cost competitive, which is why they need rebate programs. Like, arguably, government-subsidized advocacy groups.

In keeping with which, Canary Media’s news-of-the-future section tells us “Why heat-pump water heaters could soon take off” and sure enough market forces have nothing to do with it. Instead “New federal efficiency standards, local air quality regulations, and government incentives are spurring a shift toward the up-and-coming clean energy tech.” The piece goes on to claim that electric water heaters are way too expensive, which makes an economist wonder why anyone would buy one even without new “efficiency” standards, the whole price system being the most amazingly efficient efficiency standard anyone could imagine, or want. Whereas instead “A final factor spurring the popularity of heat-pump water heaters is the bevy of incentives available.” Imagine that. People like it when you throw money at them. Until the tax bill arrives, that is… unless it gets sent to someone else.

5 comments on “The not-so-invisible hand”

  1. Why would the federal government approve this in “only BC”, except for vote smuckering ? This partisan money redistribution has to be stopped. Politicians seem confused over what “everyone paying their fair share” means, there is no “everyone else” in that expression.

  2. Wow,so my taxes are subsidizing heat pumps in BC.But I can't take advantage of this particular "incentive" because I don't live there.Unreal!

  3. That hundred million is just one percent of what Alberta transfers through "equalization" to the Province that elects Trudeau and Guilbeault every year.

  4. My 20-year-old gas (propane in my case - rural property, no natgas) furnace was end of life a couple of years ago and I did some research into heat pumps. Given I have enough property, ground source was an option and involved about 2400 feet of piping under ground. The HST on the system was more that the cost of the entire propane furnace I finally acquired. I calculated payback on the system at about 60 years based on lower operational costs. Air source was a bit better with the payback on the best units, that provide some heat to -25C or so, at about 30 years. You still need a gas or e-furnace also, for the colder days. The cheaper units where you have to heat with something else below -8 or 10C had about a 20 year payback. All these calcs take into account the subsidies offered at the time. The payback times may have been reduced some if I were not burning wood for part of my heat. Also, I don't use air conditioning because I prefer all open windows with lots of air flow in summer. Works out here where there is nothing around me but fields and trees. This would have made a bit of a difference too. A "neighbour" down the road got the ground-source system a few years ago. But I think he liked the idea of it more than the payback. Has lots of money to burn, figuratively speaking, which helps. So maybe heat pumps are "taking off" but doesn't work for me. Maybe some day.

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