Data shows carbon tax impact on the rise for MD of Pincher Creek

·4 min read

The MD of Pincher Creek will be spending a lot more money on energy and fossil fuels in the coming decade.

Recent data configured by administration and presented to council shows that carbon tax will cost the MD about $1.5 million over 11 years and will lead to an average 360 per cent increase in paid yearly taxes from 2019 to 2030.

The price of gasoline, diesel, natural gas and electricity have already begun to climb in light of the federal government’s decision to increase carbon tax yearly leading up to 2030 in an effort to incentivize the switch to renewables.

Diesel costs are expected to increase 250 per cent this year from 2019 estimates, costing the MD around $36,300. By 2030, this will have increased 850 per cent, totalling out to $123,329.

Currently, the MD’s diesel vehicles are its most prevalent source of carbon dioxide equivalent, producing about 726 tonnes annually.

Carbon tax for gasoline and natural gas will also increase, albeit less rapidly. The cost has more than doubled since 2019 estimates, with the MD expected to pay $8,700 in taxes for natural gas and $9,500 for gasoline this year. By 2030, these numbers are to increase 850 per cent to around $30,000 each.

Tristan Walker, municipal energy project lead, says carbon tax will have an impact not only on the MD, but also on residents, increasing water and heating bills and making it more expensive to fuel cars.

Now is the time to consider switching over to high-efficiency appliances and to move away from natural gas and toward electricity within the home, he says.

“Hot water heaters, furnaces, boilers, anything like that that is currently on natural gas — if it’s nearing end of life, that might be something you want to consider changing over to electricity.”

Other money-saving measures, he adds, include turning lights off when not in use, switching incandescent light bulbs to LEDs, keeping blinds down in the summer so the sun cannot heat the home, biking or walking around town to complete errands, or investing in an electric vehicle.

MD data shows the increase in cost for electricity will not be as great and will remain more consistent over time. The MD will pay $33,000 this year and $36,800 by 2030.

While consumers do not directly pay carbon tax for electricity, carbon tax prices do impact fossil fuels used for electricity generation, which subsequently leads to an increase in cost.

Town and MD administration are also considering cost-saving measures for residents, Walker says. Research is currently underway regarding the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre’s Clean Energy Improvement Program, which allows property owners to apply for funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to their homes.

It would cover upgrades for appliances like furnaces, boilers or hot water tanks and solar panel installation projects. Money is loaned to the homeowner through the program and paid back through a property tax bill. This allows the owner to sell their house and pass on the loan repayment to the next buyer.

Municipalities must adopt the program by creating a clean-energy improvement bylaw and the town is currently researching the necessary requirements for administering it.

Within Canada as a whole, carbon tax is set to rise in steps until 2030, at which point it will reach $170 per tonne.

The federal government has announced it will rebate the majority of carbon tax revenue to residents, but an economic study produced by the Fraser Institute last year indicates this might not be enough to offset the increased cost of living.

Authored by Ross McKitrick, senior fellow at Fraser Institute, and Elmira Aliakbari, associate director of the institute’s Centre for Natural Resource Studies, the study found that even if the government were to rebate 90 per cent of carbon tax revenues to Canadian households, spend the remainder and keep all other tax rates constant, it would still add about $22 billion annually to government debt.

The researchers also concluded that carbon tax would cause Canada’s gross domestic product to shrink by an average of 1.8 per cent, leading to the permanent loss of about 184,000 jobs and reducing income in every province by about $1,540 per employed person annually.

For Alberta, the consequences would be particularly severe due to the province’s heavy reliance on oil and gas. According to the study, Alberta would experience the greatest GDP loss in Canada alongside Nova Scotia, and would suffer the largest burden from job losses alongside Ontario.

An estimated total of 30,139 jobs would be lost provincewide, much higher than in the two other Prairie provinces, which would lose just over 1,000, and GDP reduction would reach 2.4 per cent, far higher than the national average, the study says.

Gillian Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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