By: Justin Seward
A new year is here and many Albertans greenhouse owners have felt the effect of the carbon levy that came into effect on Jan. 1. The levy was added to all fuels that will emit greenhouse gases when released at a rate of $20 per tone in 2017 and $30 per tonne in 2018. This will include heating fuels such as diesel, gasoline, natural gas and propane.
However, after over a year of discussions with the provincial government, a rebate was implemented for greenhouse owners to recollect 80 percent of the carbon levy over a two-year term.
Albert Cramer, vice chair of the Alberta Greenhouse Growers Association Association (AGGA) and co-owner of Big Marble Farms, said while in discussions with the government they wanted to follow British Columbia’s rebate model, where greenhouse users receive a 80 percent rebate back.
The argument that Cramer put forth was that as a greenhouse owner, they absorb the same carbon that’s emitted and if there was a carbon tax received they would be charged for something they take in.
“It was a pretty good feeling,” said Cramer.
“Sometimes all you do is lobbying and meetings, and you get nowhere with the government and on this one they seen the argument we made before them.”
He said when Alberta was getting 100 percent carbon tax and B.C. was only getting 80 percent, that put Alberta growers at a disadvantage with them.
“I think that was also a big play in it,” said Cramer.
“They didn’t want the Alberta growers producing local food year round because we have this new greenhouses here. We’re producing about 40 acres of greenhouses in the Medicine Hat area that’s growing year round. It’s a lot higher energy costs.”
Skyview Growers greenhouse owner Doyle Brandt said the new rebate could not have come at better time for their industry because it would have costed his business $60,000 without the rebate and for him to get 80 percent of his back is a big help in keeping his business running efficiently.
Greenhouse owners will receive 80 percent of every dollar they pay in carbon tax to the government in 2017 back, while in 2018 they will receive 80 percent of every $1.50 in carbon tax.