February 4, 2014
Alberta lags behind several Canadian provinces and American states when it comes to energy efficiency, and the province does not appear poised to catch up. A report published today by The School of Public Policy reaches this conclusion and argues the province would be wise to direct more attention and resources towards improving its current inefficiency.
"Improved energy efficiency could position businesses in Alberta to become even more globally competitive, in addition to leading to improved air quality and public health," Hamidreza Zareipour and William Rosehart write.
In terms of economic benefit, the authors explain that rising energy prices should provide incentive for business to reduce consumption and associated costs. Further, they argue that energy efficiency is a more cost-effective approach than building infrastructure to meet energy-demand growth.
Despite these potential benefits, Alberta is heading in the wrong direction. The authors explain that from 1995 to 2011 Alberta's population increased by roughly 40 per cent, but energy use in the province increased 62 per cent.
Meanwhile, many other jurisdictions have set their sights on reducing consumption and increasing efficiency. As an example, Ontario has a target for 7,100 MW (28 TWh35) of avoided generation by 2030, and estimates that it had avoided 1,837 MW36 in 2010.
To achieve these types of targets jurisdictions establish programs devoted to energy efficiency. Zareipour and Rosehart indicate that these can come in the form of "utility-led" programs, which are funded by ratepayers through increases in their energy rate or additional charges. There are also targeted programs that create awareness, set standards or provide financial aid around energy efficiency measures.
The authors offer several recommendations for Alberta moving forward:
- Recognize leadership in this area in order to drive a positive environment for energy efficiency
- Adopt and enforce a leading energy building code. For example, LEED rating could be made mandatory
- Offer financial incentive for replacing equipment with energy efficient options
- Promote combined heat and power generation through financial programs
- Consider opportunities to support the development of a natural-gas fueled transportation network
The report can be found at http://www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/?q=content/energy-efficiency-finding-leadership-opportunities
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