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Alberta pulls the plug on energy efficiency programs

by Mark Sabourin
EcoLog, 11/8/2019 1:08:00 PM

Alberta has quietly scrapped most of the consumer programs of the province’s energy efficiency agency, Energy Efficiency Alberta. The news was made public in an October 25, 2019 blog post buried on the agency’s website, one day after Finance Minister Travis Toews delivered a provincial budget that promised a 2.8% spending cut over four years. The budget made no mention of the agency or its programs.

The agency says it will follow through on commitments already made. However, applications that had not been approved by October 24, 2019 will not be processed.

Alberta had been the only province or state in North America without an energy efficiency agency when Energy Efficiency Alberta was established by the former government as part of its climate leadership plan. The agency was funded by the provincial carbon tax, and when that revenue source was eliminated as the new government’s first order of business, its fate became uncertain at best. The government said it would examine programs individually to determine which would stay and which would go.

The following programs have been cancelled:

  • Custom Energy Solutions: a program that helped emitters upgrade inefficient equipment and make other energy improvements
  • Business Energy Savings: a program that provided incentives for businesses, non-profits and institutional organizations to upgrade to high-efficiency products
  • Residential and Commercial Solar: a program that provided incentives for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems
  • Online Rebates: a program that rebated part of the cost of specific energy-efficient products
  • Home Improvement Rebates: a program that supported investment by homeowners in residential energy efficiency
  • Home Energy Plan: a program that encouraged residential energy audits
  • Affordable Housing Energy Solutions: a program that improved energy efficiency in affordable housing.

Defending the cuts in the Legislature on October 31, 2019, Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon called the programs a “slush fund that the NDP had for their own special projects, many of which had no impact on the environment, some of which were spent on Ontario companies to install light bulbs and shower heads.”

According to Energy Efficiency Alberta’s 2018-19 annual report, the agency had generated $850 million of economic growth since opening its doors in 2017, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5.7 million tonnes. For every dollar invested in its programs, the agency said it returned $3.20 to Albertans.

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