FortisBC doubling down on conservation programs and tripling incentive spending over four years
SURREY, BC, March 28, 2019 /CNW/ - The BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) recently approved FortisBC's request to double its spending on conservation and efficiency programs in 2019 and triple this spending by 2022. The request formed part of FortisBC's 2019 - 2022 Demand Side Management (DSM) Applications for both its natural gas and electric operations. This represents the largest funding approvals FortisBC has received to date for its energy-efficiency initiatives.
"This approval is very positive — in addition to supporting all our customers with saving energy, it helps us advance our Clean Growth Pathway strategy which supports provincial and federal climate change objectives," said Roger Dall'Antonia, president and CEO for FortisBC. "It allows us to do much more to help lower energy use, emissions and costs in everything from hospitals to homes. It also means more support for municipalities, tradespeople and developers who are dedicated to implementing new codes and standards to achieve greater energy-efficiency."
With this approval, FortisBC can significantly expand its overall energy-efficiency investment to $368.5 million over the 2019 – 2022 period, with much of the increase occurring in the first year. The largest investment targets FortisBC's 1.1 million natural gas customers. This year, overall spending on natural gas conservation programs is doubling from 2016 levels — $32.1 million in 2016 to $66.3 million in 2019. By 2022, annual spending will triple to $96.7 million. For FortisBC's 170,000 electric customers in B.C.'s southern interior, overall spending jumps 75 per cent, increasing from approximately $6.6 million in 2016 to $11.4 million by 2022.
FortisBC estimates the resulting program enhancements will effectively double its natural gas energy savings and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and achieve one-million gigajoules of annual savings. This in turn will lead to GHG reductions of approximately 50 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year, which is the same impact of taking close to 11,000 cars off the road. By 2022, electricity savings are estimated to increase by almost 50 per cent annually compared to 2016 levels, totaling 130 gigawatt hours over the plan period, which is equivalent to the annual electricity use of approximately 11,600 homes.
FortisBC's enhanced energy conservation and efficiency plans incorporate feedback from extensive consultation with customers and stakeholders, a comprehensive review of B.C.'s energy savings potential and reflects the company's support of a transition to a lower carbon economy. The plans were designed with the intent of helping achieve the goals and targets set out in legislation like the B.C. Clean Energy Act and the B.C. Energy Step Code.
"FortisBC's growing investment in energy efficiency programs is helping customers save money and conserve energy as we create a cleaner, more affordable, low-carbon economy," said the Honourable Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. "These investments are a great example of how our utilities, guided by the B.C. Utilities Commission, are playing a key role in achieving our climate goals under CleanBC."
In addition to adding more incentives and increasing the value of many of its existing offers, FortisBC is working to streamline programs, further align offers with provincial partners and fund more supporting initiatives like research and energy use studies.
As a result, many customers will see benefits. Some specific enhancements include extending the popular residential high-efficiency natural gas furnace rebate to be a year-round offer and designing a similar program for small business customers. Industries, communities and institutions now have greater access to energy use studies and certified experts to assist them in managing energy in both their new and existing facilities. There is also more support for social housing providers and customers on lower incomes.
The increased investment is also fostering innovation surrounding promising, energy-saving technologies and building design elements. To date, FortisBC has identified hundreds of potential technologies and conducted field-testing on 28. They have eight studies underway including gas-fired heat pumps and smart learning thermostats. By piloting these in real-world settings, FortisBC is determining how effectively they can help meet advanced steps of the B.C. Step Code and their potential as future program offers to our customers.
This increased investment in energy-efficiency and management is one of the many ways FortisBC is helping B.C. reduce emissions and achieve an affordable lower-carbon, renewable energy future. Find more information about how FortisBC is working towards a lower-carbon energy future at fortisbc.com/sustainability.
FortisBC is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity and propane. FortisBC employs approximately 2,300 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC owns and operates two liquefied natural gas storage facilities and four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,260 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines, and approximately 49,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Energy Inc. is a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., a leader in the North American regulated electric and gas utility industry. For further information visit www.fortisinc.com.
For further information: MEDIA CONTACT: Sean Beardow, Corporate Communications Manager, FortisBC, Office: 778 578 8076, Cell: 778 879 3753, [email protected], 24-hour media line: 1-855-322-6397