The provincial government and N.B. Power have expanded a program to offer subsidized heat pumps to more homeowners.
The Enhanced Energy Savings Program, which was announced September, will now be expanded to homes that heat with oil.
The program, which offers free heat pumps to households with income less than $70,000, was at first limited to people with baseboard heating.
N.B. Power president Lori Clark said the utility is happy to extend the program to even more customers.
"We know those homeowners as well are feeling the economic pinch, and this program is intended to offer them some relief," said Clark.
"By opening up the program eligibility to customers who heat with oil we'll be able to help a whole new group of New Brunswick homeowners."
The heat pump program will see an additional $20 million in funding this year, while an additional $20 million will go toward helping homeowners transfer away from heating oil.
The province said details on the second part of the program will be announced soon.
Increasing fuel costs
In a news conference, Energy Minister Mike Holland took aim at federally mandated carbon pricing as being a reason the program had been expanded to help heating oil consumers.
"On average heating oil has increased on average 75 cents per litre since this time last year," said Holland.
"Further increases are expected and we will see those from April 1, 2023 due primarily to federally regulated carbon pricing, clean fuel regulations, etc."
Heating oil prices, along with all other petroleum prices, have gone up significantly since Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, something Holland neglected to mention in his remarks.
When asked why the province had waited until November to announce the expanded program, given prices have been high for months and many heating oil costumes have already filled their tanks for winter, Holland said the province was moving quickly to address heating cost issues.
"We feel like urgency is important and I would take issue with saying that we waited so long," said Holland.
"We're a couple of months away from the initial announcement that we made in September to move toward ensuring that a very important group of people receive a very important subsidy to lower their energy costs, knowing and we said at that point that this was going to be an ongoing process that would continue."
Holland said the province is also committed to offering programs for people that don't meet the current income threshold.
He says news on that should be coming in the new year.