UPDATE: What does $91 million get you? The EcoEnergy program has to date saved Canadians more that 3 terawatt-hours (3 billion kilowatt-hours) of energy, according to the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance. That works out to $339 million in electricity costs every years. To now cut this program is mindboggling, and idiotic.
It continues to amaze me how hostile Canada’s current federal government is to programs aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Word tonight is that the Harper government is winding down its EcoEnergy home retrofit program. But, as is often the case, it didn’t give homeowners advance warning. The program technically runs until March 31, 2011, but if you haven’t already done or booked a pre-retrofit energy audit you’re out of luck — only those who have already booked this first audit can continue to benefit from the federal program, which pays out up to $5,000 in incentives for people who do home energy retrofits (matching incentives from the provinces may still be in effect).
This means if you’re considering solar thermal, ground-source heat pumps, a new high-efficiency furnace, a high-efficiency air conditioner, or measures to make your home more air-tight, you’ve pretty much missed the boat. It would have been nice to see some numbers from the government to justify this move. We know that 85,000 people have already had audits that eventually led to $91 million in incentives being paid out. How much energy savings resulted? How much of a reduction in greenhouse gases did we see? How many jobs did it create? I would love to see these numbers, given that most energy experts will tell you that incentives for home energy retrofits represent one of the lowest-cost ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If the Harper government is discontinuing a climate program considered cheap compared to other alternatives, then it’s crystal clear that this government couldn’t care less about meeting its international obligations or even meeting its own greenhouse-gas reduction targets.
Let’s keep in mind it has also killed future funding for its EcoEnergy for Renewables program, taking away federal incentives for developers of wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable projects. It has also failed to promote, let alone acknowledge the potential of geothermal power projects in Canada. It helped undermine climate talks in Copenhagen. It cut funding for climate research. It is one of the only major developed countries to refuse membership in the newly created International Agency for Renewable Energy. You can see where this list is going…