Energy efficiency programs are an easy win for Alberta

Blog - May 18, 2015 - By Jesse Row

Alberta is the only jurisdiction in North America without any energy efficiency programs.

The past twenty years have not been productive for energy efficiency programs in Alberta. While other jurisdictions steadily increased their investment year over year, Alberta has only had two short-run programs. This means Alberta is currently the only jurisdiction in North America without any energy efficiency programs.

The latest attempt to fund new energy efficiency programs stalled was shortly after Jim Prentice became Premier. Prior to Prentice coming on board, the environment minister at the time, Robin Campbell, had announced new programs would be launched in October 2014. These new programs were put on hold by then-premier Prentice and remained stalled throughout his time in office.

The failure of the government to support energy efficiency not only impacts Albertans’ energy bills and our emissions, but also our economy as a whole. A recent study commissioned by Natural Resources Canada shows energy efficiency programs are a proven way to increase economic activity and create jobs. In fact, this is one of the main motivators for significantly increased investment into energy efficiency programs in the United States over the past eight years. And the great thing about using energy efficiency programs to stimulate economic activity and jobs is their proven ability to work anywhere.

How to get started

There are already a number of foundational elements in place to support the launch of new energy efficiency programs.

The first is funding. Since 2007, the Government of Alberta has collected over $500 million for the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund from large industrial facilities that have failed to meet their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. Of this, nearly $250 million has been committed to projects and another $75 million is allocated to a current request for proposals (RFP) process through the Climate Change and Emissions Management Corporation. The law requires these funds to be used for reducing GHG emissions, which provides an excellent opportunity to fund new energy efficiency programs in Alberta.

The second foundational element already started is the research. The Government of Alberta has been exploring energy efficiency for a number of years in anticipation of launching new programs at some point. An RFP was even issued last August for the design of new energy efficiency programs. While proposals were submitted, the process was put on hold when Premier Prentice took office. Under Alberta’s new government, work could progress right away on the design of new energy efficiency programs by restarting this RFP.

Energy efficiency is a win-win

*Do you support or oppose the government using a portion of these funds to support energy efficiency upgrades for homes and commercial buildings in Alberta?

With a proven ability to reduce emissions while saving consumers money, and creating jobs and economic activity, energy efficiency offers the Government of Alberta a win-win opportunity.
The International Energy Agency has stated, “[e]nergy efficiency represents the most important plank in efforts to decarbonise the global energy system and achieve the world’s climate objectives.” Public support for energy efficiency programs already exists. Past polling shows a significant majority of Albertans want to see the creation of new energy efficiency programs in the province.

With this many positives lined up, energy efficiency presents an excellent opportunity for Alberta’s new government to show leadership on a number of priorities within a matter of months.


Jesse Row

Jesse Row is director of the Pembina Institute's energy efficiency program in Alberta, until 2015.


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