From the Hill - EcoEnergy Retrofit Program
February 22nd, 2017 - 4:10pm
Earlier this month I attended the annual meeting of the Energy Council of Canada, a group primarily made up of the big power companies of Canada. The conference theme was “Reducing Emissions from Energy Use” and most speakers referenced the profound changes underway in global energy markets and production. A couple of talks particularly piqued my interest--detailing how buildings consume more than a quarter of the energy used in Canada, and how programs to make buildings energy efficient must play a major role in any plan to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets we agreed to in the Paris climate talks. As one expert told me recently—“Efficiency is the best new fuel”.
I searched the text of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, Ottawa’s plan to tackle greenhouse gas reduction, and was disappointed to find that the federal government was leaving it completely up to the provinces to develop any programs to provide incentives to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency. I was particularly surprised because the previous Conservative government had implemented the very popular and successful ecoENERGY Home Retrofit Program, and it would be a simple and cost-effective way for the federal government to take the lead in this area.
So last week I tabled Motion M-119 in the House of Commons, calling on the Liberal government to re-introduce the ecoENERGY Home Retrofit program. This program previously helped Canadians retrofit their homes and apartments, making them more efficient while lowering energy bills, creating thousands of local jobs in the trades and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The previous program ran from 2007 to 2010, then briefly again from 2011 to 2012. The first phase included grants averaging $1500 to 640,000 homes across the country, saving those households 20 percent on their energy bills after the retrofit. That energy saving also reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 3 tonnes per year for each house.
And, while the program cost the federal government $934 million from 2007 to 2012 (just under $200 million/year), it leveraged more than $4 billion in retrofit investments by Canadian families. The government got 5 times the economic impact from its investment. And the economic impact is huge. When home owners invest in new windows, insulation, and other energy-saving projects, that money circulates through the communities where they shop. Home builders across the country noticed the boost the program gave to their industry, the jobs it created. And these are good jobs distributed in every community in Canada.
So—the ecoENERGY retrofit program would be good for the environment, good for the energy bill budgets of Canadian families, and good for the economy of towns across the country. And that’s why I tabled this motion--to show the government that there’s at least one simple action that they can take to meet their climate action commitments and help Canadians at the same time. I hope that they will act on this and renew the program!