EEA Annual Report: $850 million in economic growth

The government agency charged with making Alberta more energy efficient has injected $850 million of economic growth into the province since it began in 2017, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 5.7 million tonnes.

In its 2018-19 annual report quietly posted online July 29, Energy Efficiency Alberta also said every dollar invested in its programs has returned $3.20 to Albertans.

Individuals, businesses and non-profits from every postal code area in the province have taken advantage of EEA programs, with close to 215,000 households, community groups, businesses and non-profits participating in instant in-store savings, residential and community solar, business energy savings programs, and education and training grants.

More than 15.5 million energy-efficient products have been snapped up since 2017.

The uncertain future of EEA

But the future of the agency is up in the air. Its programs were funded by the consumer carbon tax axed by the new provincial government.

When asked Thursday about the economic growth, emission reductions and cost savings cited in the agency’s report, Environment Minister Jason Nixon told Postmedia in an email his government is working to determine which EEA programs align with UCP goals.

“We are taking a measured and common-sense approach to this task, which is why we have avoided making any rash decisions with regard to these programs,” Nixon wrote.

Energy Efficiency Alberta media manager Ameera Shivji told Postmedia in an email EEA was “very pleased” with its 2018-19 results and the value it has delivered to Albertans.

“Given that (EEA) programs remain under government review, we’re not publicly commenting further. You can direct questions to Environment and Parks,” she said.

She said her agency has been under a “communications restriction” since the UCP took power, but declined to elaborate on what that means, saying only the government was taking the lead on various EEA issues.

There’s still no word from the government on whether or not the agency will be scrapped altogether.

During the election, now-Premier Jason Kenney said “we don’t need bureaucrats changing our shower heads and our light bulbs,” adding that EEA programs would be “gone” under a UCP government.

Days after the election, companies capitalizing on growing consumer interest in retrofits and renewables warned that EEA’s death could result in job losses. In May, the UCP said no decisions had been made about the fate of EEA programs.

‘No stopping’ energy efficiency

Despite the uncertainty in Alberta, Efficiency Canada executive director Corey Diamond said the numbers in EEA’s annual report speak to the sector’s explosive growth.

“Energy efficiency is growing at three times the rate of other sectors of Canada’s economy. There’s no stopping this. A carbon-restrained world is coming regardless, so the faster we design the transition we want, the better,” he said.

Diamond acknowledged it’s a tough sell in Alberta, where energy-efficiency programs are caught in political crossfire by being lumped in with the carbon tax.

But he said the sector’s economic arguments — including job creation numbers and energy cost savings for households, businesses and industry — speak for themselves, adding, “you don’t need a carbon tax to support energy efficiency.”

“When people are presented with smart ideas, they see them … and say, ‘I want to be part of that,’” he said.

“Whether it’s a household that’s done a lighting retrofit or a business that has taken on a deeper retrofit through these programs, Albertans are no different than the rest of Canada. People like energy efficiency. It makes sense.”

To view the full original article, click here: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/850-million-in-economic-growth-energy-efficiency-alberta-releases-annual-report

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