Four provinces get top marks for energy efficiency

November 1, 2008   by Noelle Stapinsky, Features Editor

The Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEA) received an overwhelming response from Canadian governments to its National Report Card on Energy Efficiency. All 14 jurisdictions received passing grades, although some may be a little green with embarrassment over their slipping grades.

The CEEA report card is released every two years as an energy efficiency analysis of government efforts in the territories, provinces and Canada. They’re rated on nine parameters: energy efficiency planning; codes and standards; transportation; public outreach and partnerships; in-house governmental programs; utilities regulations; communicating awareness; related policy developments; and an annual evaluation.

Compared to the last report card, 10 of the 14 jurisdictions had improved grades; three let their grades slip and one maintained a poor grade.

The federal government is one of the slackers.

“We know when [Stephen] Harper came in he basically had five priorities. He addressed those and everything else went to the bottom of the list,” says Ken Elsey, president of the CEEA.

He believes the Harper government didn’t understand Canadians’ perspective on the environment or energy efficiency and it was almost 14 months before the Conservatives started to restructure programs. “To be honest, they’re not doing a bad job. They’re helping provinces with their ecoENERGY program,” says Elsey.

The initiative—launched in 2007—offers grants and incentives to improve energy conservation and efficiency.

The Yukon and PEI also let their grades fall. The Yukon—which went from a B-plus to a B-minus—continues with strong programs through its Energy Solutions Centre. And PEI dropped from a C-plus to a D because it was concentrating more on transportation.

“The Yukon has been very energy conscious in the past. Now it’s looking at how it can get off diesel and into renewables,” says Elsey. “The same with PEI.”

Alberta has maintained a D-plus since 2004. “Alberta just doesn’t get it,” says Elsey. “It thinks energy is all about the oil sands. Alberta doesn’t seem to understand it’s how it deals with consumers on a day-to-day basis, not just industry.”

Brian McCready, Alberta’s vice-president of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, believes the province is heading in the right direction.

He says Alberta is focusing on energy intensity. Two years ago the province did a benchmark study and established that industry will have to reduce energy intensity by 15 per cent. Companies that don’t meet the requirements will have to put money in a fund for new energy efficient technology.

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