CALGARY — New research shows that Alberta is the only province or state in Canada and the U.S. without energy efficiency programs in the residential and commercial sectors. Energy efficiency programs are used in every other jurisdiction to upgrade the efficiency of buildings and reduce energy bills.
“This is a huge missed opportunity,” states Jesse Row, Executive Director of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (AEEA), the group that undertook the research. The AEEA includes organizations from the oil and gas sector, energy utilities, municipalities, product and service providers, and non-profits. “Albertans are paying billions of dollars more than they need to.”
The Alliance’s most recent publication, Energy Efficiency Potential in Alberta, shows Albertans and Alberta businesses could see net savings of $1.5 billion by 2020 if all energy efficiency upgrades that are economic today are implemented over the next 10 years.
Recent polling shows that Albertans support their government introducing funding for energy efficiency programs. The results of the poll show 77 per cent of Albertans support or strongly support the government of Alberta using a portion of the Climate Change and Emissions Management Fund (CCEMF) to support energy efficiency upgrades in homes and commercial buildings. Only seven per cent of respondents are either opposed or strongly opposed to using the funds in this way, with 16 per cent of respondents indicating they didn’t know or were unsure whether they support or oppose this approach.
The CCEMF is a fund paid into by large industrial facilities in the province when they fail to meet their emission reduction targets. Since 2007, industrial facilities in Alberta have paid $398 million into the fund. The fund is currently used to support the development of new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and has already funded 51 projects totaling $213 million in funding. This funding has included several energy efficiency projects at industrial facilities.
“Funds that can be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been sitting in the province’s bank account for some time now,” said Row. “The Government of Alberta should immediately put this money to work by investing into energy efficiency programs in the province. Albertans shouldn’t have to wait.”
Energy efficiency is widely considered the lowest-cost way to reduce emissions, as it saves households and businesses more money than it costs.