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Energy Efficiency Alberta making inroads

Posted on December 27, 2017 by Taber Times

By Greg Price
Vauxhall Advance

A lot of people will be making New Year’s resolutions when it comes to January 2018.

What Energy Efficiency is hoping for in resolutions is a greater awareness for the fairly new provincial agency that provides programs and services to Albertans to save money and energy.

“It is really helping Alberta residents, businesses and industry understand the opportunity that energy efficiency represents and the economic and environmental opportunity it creates,” said Monica Curtis, CEO of Energy Efficiency since March. “We have got a real positive response from Albertans, both from the business and resident sector. Being able to have financial incentives and support services to help people explore energy efficiency as an alternative dispels some myths and gives people that tangible benefit to know what to choose for more energy efficient choices for their home, business or industrial site.”

Energy Efficiency Alberta has been in existence for a mere year and has already made big inroads in the province and southern Alberta as well. Registrants for just the southern Alberta region for participation in its Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program has equaled 10,640 as of late November. Other statistics have shown number of installs completed (1,857), energy saved (7,020.4824 GJ, 390.41 t GHS emissions), water saved (40,510.122 m3) and products installed (55,374).

“Albertans have always demonstrated a commitment to addressing waste and energy efficiency is just one more tool that we have for effectively using the resources we are producing,” said Curtis. “We have had phenomenal response from Albertans to our programs. For example, our residential programs. We have four programs available, and when you add up participation across all of those, close to 12 per cent of single family homes have chosen to participate in one program or another. When you think those programs were launched as little as (seven) months ago, that is amazing response.”

Energy Efficiency Alberta is a crown corporation that has been put in place to support energy efficiency in small scale for renewable energy. Four large retailers in Taber in South Country Co-Op, Home Hardware, UFA and Wal-Mart chose to participate in a retail savings program that ran for six weeks in the spring and four weeks in the fall.

“Some of our other programs like the Business, Non-Profit and Institutional Energy Savings Program, that is a support for businesses for pretty basic air handling, motors, lighting, those kind of energy efficiency things,” said Curtis. “Support around that is on an on-going basis and we expect to have that program in place for as long there is evolving technology in that space. We are constantly adding and changing measures as the demand in the marketplace or technology evolves.”

Born from the Climate Leadership Plan in November 2015, there was a commitment to reinvest all revenue from the carbon levy into Alberta’s economy, including into energy efficiency. The drive was to invest in energy efficiency and community energy system programs that would help reduce energy use and associated costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and support green jobs.
In June 2016 an energy efficiency advisory panel was established with stakeholder engagement from July to September 2016 which included open houses in Medicine Hat, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie and online presence as well. Technical and indigenous community engagement was sought after as well. The panel’s first report of Getting It Right: A More Energy Efficient Alberta was released in January 2017 with a recommendation to launch residential direct install, consumer product, business/non-profit incentive and small solar PV programs. With Energy Efficiency Alberta officially launched in January 2017, the streamlined timelines to fruition and the initial buy-in to programs has a high demand for the initiative.

“I think it’s a testament to Albertans that when an opportunity opens up, they do take it seriously and how to participate. Also, there is the strength of the marketplace. You can’t drive energy efficiency programs into the marketplace without the participation of engineers, architects, contractors and financial institutions in really supporting those programs and supporting their customers in making those selections and participating quickly,” said Curtis. “Individual customers are interested in the value that energy efficiency offers. That culture of reducing waste and making good use of our resources is something people are already committed to and this is something for them to act on that. I think it is also the strength of our contractors and our installer networks in delivering those services to their customer base in a responsible and proactive manner.”

Energy Efficiency Alberta’s top-line goal is to improve energy efficiency in building stock in the province and with that, reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with wasted energy.

“We are undertaking a potential engineering study of understanding what the energy efficiency potential is available in the building stock in Alberta. We are undertaking that research right now and we expect to have preliminary results from that in the spring,” said Curtis. “It will be coming out with set targets based on the research.”

Curtis encourages home owners, businesses or industrial sites to log onto to take your first steps into being more energy efficient.

“We do have call centres that people can call in and we can talk to them about their personal situation and give them some advice on how to get started,” said Curtis, adding if you have a contractor you are working with, Energy Efficiency Alberta is making it a point to engage with them and network about the possibilities.

“Often your contractor, the person who would actually come into your home to make those changes in your building is a good first step in both identifying the opportunities in your building.”

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