The city’s announcement that it is banning heating oil in the coming years will impact nearly 50,000 households in Montreal – and making the change to electricity will come at a cost.
On Monday, Mayor Valerie Plante announced that the city plans to ban heating oil by 2030 and natural gas by 2050 in an effort to help the city reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral.
“It's a decision we're making because we want to be a responsible administration in fighting climate change,” she said.
Use of heating oil has dropped steadily over the years, but some 25,000 households still use it. Another 23,000 households use a dual-energy system.
Switching energy sources will be costly, especially for those who use dual energy.
“We use this typical case of a medium-sized house, 158 square metres. If you're on a dual energy system right now, the average is about $1,000 per year. That includes electricity and oil," said Hydro-Quebec spokesperson Cendrix Bouchard. "If you're going to be switching over to electricity... it could affect your fees by about 40 per cent. Keep in mind, this doesn't take into account the acquisition or maintenance of any system.”
Lower insurance premiums could also offset that price, but not everyone is happy with the news.
The change could hurt renters, warns the Quebec Landlords' Association, because if building owners have to incur the expense of buying a new furnace, they would then pass on the expense to tenants through rent increases.
The heating oil industry says it’s been expecting a hit and is trying to adjust.
“We are looking forward to distributing renewable eco-fuel, like renewable diesel made of wood, for example, that would work in existing fuel heating systems,” said Sonia Marcotte, president of the Energy Distributors Association of Quebec.
Energir, which supplies natural gas, says it's working towards using biomethane gas, which is made from human, plant, and animal waste.
“In the long term we are working on renewable natural gas which is carbon neutral,” said Energir spokesperson Catherine Houde.
There will be compensation for those making the switch, said Mayor Valerie Plante -- adding that she is counting on the province to chip in.