Letter to BC Premier Gordon Campbell regarding Sustainable Energy Tax Disincentives

Dear Premier Campbell,

As the Olympics come to a close I would like to bring to your attention another global competition.  The race to be the GREENEST building.  The Living Building Challenge is a visionary building certification program well beyond LEED platinum.  With over 70 global projects registered and only four completed, the Eco-Sense Home in Victoria BC is leading the way.

Eco-Sense embodies the principals of the Living Building Challenge.  This multi-generation affordable near net zero family home incorporates the best of modern technologies into an innovative modern example of earthen architecture.  see www.eco-sense.ca

The Eco-Sense home has had over 100 media events including TV, magazines, radio, newspaper, documentaries, Royal BC Museum displays, and books.  Tours have included policy makers, politicians, engineers, government officials, architects, builders, climate scientists, community leaders, groups of bankers, groups of building officials and planners, as well as school groups and the public.

As you can imagine a project of this magnitude has encountered many policy barriers.  Ann and Gord Baird, through their achievements, have identified many barriers while working towards the solutions.

Energy Policy is at the forefront of the identified barriers and we would like to share what we have learned from the front line of actually walking the sustainability talk.  Below are the main barriers to Eco-Sense becoming the most sustainable code approved family home in North America.

  1. The BC Hydro Net metering program is very poor and is lagging behind.  Eco-Sense IS a NET PROVIDER of electricity to BC Hydro on an annual basis.  If BC Hydro had a better net metering program which paid the real cost of all the sustainable energy sold to the grid, many of the cost barriers to sustainable energy and fully net zero living would be overcome.  BC Hydro is WAY behind as they only pay 8.2 cents per kWhr.  Quite embarrassing for a province that wishes to lead the way towards sustainability.
    • better policy in this area would support a distributed grid, energy conservation, community pride, and local energy resiliency.
  2. Removal of all the current tax disincentives to solar PV. (Here are a few of them)
    • HST on solar technologies – sustainable energy should be exempt from HST
    • Electrical permit fees on entire solar installations – leads to very large permit fees for individuals installing solar systems
    • increase in municipal taxation because of property value increases due to BC Assessment of all future energy energy production
      • Eco-Sense pays an extra $400 per year in municipal taxes because we generate sustainable energy (works out to $10,000 over the 25 year life cycle of the system)
      • Our Sustainable energy systems comprise 21% of the total cost of our home.  (see PDF link below for complete cost breakdown of the Eco-Sense home)

We recently discussed this issue with the BC Assessment appeal board, the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BCSEA), and our MLA; everyone agrees that this is wrong.  Solution involves changing the legislation with the BC Minister of Finance.

The climate science dictates that policy MUST encourage the people and industry to take BIG steps to move rapidly towards sustainability.  Most of the current GHG reduction policy involves encouraging baby step.

Ann and Gord Baird of Eco-Sense strongly encourage the Campbell Government to take bold steps forward on Energy and Taxation Policy to create the future we all desire, for our children, our citizens, our beautiful province and to showcase for the planet that BC is truly a leader.  Just think, BC could have the first certified “Living Building Project” in the World.

Please see this PDF of the features of our home.

We would also like to extend an invitation for a private tour of our home.


Ann and Gord Baird

Victoria, BC

4 responses to “Letter to BC Premier Gordon Campbell regarding Sustainable Energy Tax Disincentives

  1. I just discovered that the although the “read more details” took me to a blank page, it was also downloading the doc to my “downloads” file. I had my other screen turned off I didn’t see that I’d downloaded it 4 times.

  2. EMAIL from the Office of the Premier…

    Thank you for your email regarding the Living Building Challenge and your Eco-Sense home in Victoria.

    We appreciate the time that you have taken to share your views with us regarding policies for green building projects as they relate to taxes, permit fees and rates paid by BC Hydro to providers of electricity through their net metering program. As noted, you have also shared your email with the Honourable Blair Lekstrom, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, and with the Honourable Colin Hansen, Minister of Finance. You can be assured that your feedback will be included in related discussions between the appropriate ministry representatives.

    Again, thank you for writing. We appreciate the time that you have taken to share your concerns with us.

    pc: Honourable Blair Lekstrom
    Honourable Colin Hansen

  3. Three possible Solutions…drafted by Guy Dauncey and the BCSEA

    (1) That the Ministry of Finance instruct the BC Assessment Authority not to count renewable energy systems in the valuation of a property.

    (2) That the BC Assessment Authority be asked to create a Renewable Energy Tax credit, allowing the assessment to value the house appropriately.

    (3) That the BC Assessment Authority be asked to create a new province-wide housing classification using a set of criteria to assess green/natural/zero-energy buildings, which differ in many ways from traditional building styles. This would require a small budget for training, and to hire staff to administer the applications for natural built/green status applications, and allow the government future flexibility for tax-breaks to encourage more green building.

  4. Pingback: Spring 2010 – A quick update from Ann and Gord « Ecosenseliving's Blog

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