By Jeremy Appel
Bow Island Mayor Gordon Reynolds took the opportunity in his Dec. 1 newsletter to clear up some misconceptions about the increasing provincial carbon tax’s impact on home heating bills.
The carbon tax increases by 50 per cent on Jan. 1, but Reynolds noted that this doesn’t mean utility bills will be increasing by the same percentage.
The tax hike will result in an additional $0.0224 per litre of gasoline and $0.506 per gigajoule of natural gas.
“I was hearing people very concerned that they were going to see a huge increase, certainly, in their natural gas bill and whatnot.
“A really big chunk of the gas bills now are the fixed costs and the tax has no direct impact on that. The tax and the tax increase would be on the gas itself,” Reynolds told the Commentator.
People tend to use more natural gas in the winter to heat their homes, so their bill is naturally more expensive, he added.
“To just take that 50 per cent increase in the tax and apply it to estimate based on your last bill, well that’s not quite accurate,” said Reynolds.
He attributes this misinformation to “coffee shop talk” and overheated political rhetoric.
“That can be the nature of political rhetoric and that’s how that game goes, but the average person is looking at headlines and hearing soundbites and they can get worked up more than they should,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds is no supporter of carbon taxation, but said in the newsletter that critics aren’t doing themselves any favours when they spread inaccurate information.
“Many of us are still not convinced this tax is going to be a positive thing for the province but I don’t think it is helpful to exaggerate the impact on individuals,” he wrote.
Reynolds suggested a less bureaucratic approach to greenhouse gas reduction than the one currently being pursued by the provincial NDP.
He said Bow Island successfully reduced fuel consumption in the many years prior to the carbon tax regime.
“What we’ve done over the last 30, 40 years is pretty remarkable in terms of reduction of fuel consumption and yet we’re being hit by this tax,” said Reynolds.
“I feel rural Alberta is paying a disproportionate share of this tax.”
The province is investing in green energy in rural Alberta, with a wind farm project recently announced in nearby Whitla, but Reynolds questions the impact these types of projects will have on the people they’re meant to assist.
“They can argue that it’s stimulating a new part of the economy, but the average individual isn’t going to see the benefit.”