Cash paid by school districts to the province for carbon offsets will now be returned in the form of grants for energy saving projects — more than $300,000 this year.
In a memo to School District 43, Victoria has outlined a new carbon neutral capital program that will help cash-strapped school districts fund lighting and other upgrades.
Melissa Hyndes, SD43 chair, wasn’t available to comment before press time but the Coquitlam board of education has long been critical of the province’s carbon neutral regulations, which came into effect in 2008 and require districts as well as other government agencies to tally up their carbon emissions, based on energy and paper consumption, and pay $25 per tonne.
Tri-City trustees have been concerned about thousands of dollars the district has paid to the Pacific Carbon Trust.
“We have to pay money out of the classroom to subsidize this, yet schools that are entrepreneurial get no offset,” Port Coquitlam Trustee Judy Shirra commented at a board of education meeting in February.
Now, under new rules confirmed in a press release this week, districts will get all the money they pay in offsets or more for energy saving projects.
For SD43, that amounts to $328,650 in 2012/’13.
The district hasn’t decided what to spend the money on but, in the future, districts will be required to submit project requests before getting the funds.
According to the memo from the province, the district has already received $257,454 in compensation for carbon offsets while it has paid $555,612 for carbon offsets since 2010.
In addition to establishing a $5-million capital fund for school district energy saving projects, the province has announced two other changes to its carbon neutral program. It will no longer charge an administration fee for public sector agencies to use the SmartTool to calculate carbon offsets and will establish an advisory board to determine what projects the Pacific Carbon Trust will fund. The panel will include representatives from the private and public sectors that purchase offsets from PCT as well as select carbon industry experts.
According to the ministry, school district energy saving projects have achieved annual cost savings of more than $12.6 million province-wide while reducing GHGs by over 35,600 tonnes.
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