TORONTO, Sept. 26, 2019 /CNW/ - Though Ontario has discontinued some of its electricity conservation programs, the province is still home to some of the world's leading energy efficiency firms. It is these firms that are helping to transition the world to a low-carbon economy, and turning the rhetoric from this week's UN Climate Summit into reality.
"Many still think of energy efficiency as a kind of a torch carried by NGOs and utilities," said Fatima Crerar, the Director of Impact and Sustainability at ecobee, a globally-renowned company based in Toronto that designs and manufactures thermostats for homes and businesses. "But it's far more than a 'feel-good thing,' it's a powerful economic driver — which is why we're seeing companies like ours succeed."
Other firms, such as Link ClimateCare, based in Beaverton, Ontario, see the immediate impact of the energy efficiency economy. The company sells, installs, and services energy-efficient home comfort equipment such as furnaces and geo-exchange heat pumps.
"We're a small company, with about 20 employees in a rural part of the province, without major industry," says owner Chris Link. "When there's a provincial support, we could have 30 employees. But if the incentive is discontinued, we could drop down to 10 employees. That unpredictability is the biggest challenge."
But Chris is nonetheless hopeful about the sector, and is seeing more people driven to his business both for the savings and the environmental benefits, he said.
This is why the head of a national efficiency research and advocacy organization says more can be done to support energy efficiency through strong policy.
"Ontario is well positioned to take a leadership position both in natural gas conservation and in mobilizing private capital to support energy efficiency finance," said Corey Diamond, executive director of Efficiency Canada.
The Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commits the province to expand natural gas efficiency programs. Queens Park should provide the policy direction required to expand natural gas efficiency, Diamond said.
The Plan also pledged to create the Ontario Carbon Trust — an agency that would leverage private-sector capital into efficiency initiatives. As announced, the program would direct the bulk of its funding towards green bank models, proven out in Connecticut and New York.
These initiatives would help expand the economy and create jobs. An Efficiency Canada economic impact study showed that aggressive efficiency efforts across all fuels would create 56,000 jobs in the country each year, between now and 2030.
"When a province embraces energy efficiency policy, sets targets, and takes action, it effectively telegraphs a signal to the market that it's open for business in the energy-efficient economy," said Diamond. "It unlocks the investment that drives innovation," he added.
About Efficiency Canada: Efficiency Canada is the national voice for an energy efficient economy. Our mission is to create a sustainable environment and better life for all Canadians by making our country a global leader in energy efficiency policy, technology, and jobs. We conduct rigorous policy analysis; communicate compelling narratives; and convene and mobilize Canada's dynamic energy efficiency sector. Efficiency Canada is housed at Carleton University's Sustainable Energy Research Centre.
In late 2019, we will publish a comprehensive report card that will assess the energy-efficiency policies of all provinces and territories. Subscribe here for updates.