Provincial energy efficiency programs are generally less effective now than they were last decade. Newly released results from Efficiency Canada’s provincial energy efficiency scorecard show a downward trend in achieved incremental savings for the period from January 2020 to June 2021, which analysts with the national research and advocacy organization attribute largely to the dismantling of incentive programs in Ontario and Alberta.
Incremental energy savings are a measure of new savings achieved from currently offered programs — a volume that peaked at 23 petajoules Canada-wide in 2017 and dropped to roughly 14.25 petajoules in 2020-21. Notably, Ontario’s contribution to national electricity savings slipped from 58 per cent in 2017 to 18 per cent in 2020, with savings in the commercial/industrial sectors dropping from 1,105 gigawatt-hours (GWh) to 313 GWh in the two timeframes.
“Canada is coming out of the COP26 Climate Summit with the resolve to reach net-zero emissions,” observes James Gaede, senior research associate with Efficiency Canada. “The data shows that provincial energy efficiency progress is stalling.”
British Columbia retains top ranking among Canadian provinces for the third consecutive year for energy efficiency policies and outcomes, which are scored on 54 metrics pertaining to electricity, natural gas, codes and standards and transportation, and accounting for the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario also hold on to the second, third and fourth positions, respectively, they earned last year.
Efficiency Canada analysts emphasize that even British Columbia’s leading score of 55 out of 100 possible points leaves plenty of room for improvement. From there, the tallies range from 48 for Quebec down to 13 for tenth placed Newfoundland and Labrador. Ontario merited 39 points this year, while Alberta attained 21.
“Ontario continues to do quite well, but that’s largely because of some legacy policies such as it’s the only province right now to have mandatory building energy reporting, and there’s continued interesting work by the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) on grid modernization, but it’s in the 2020 data that you can really see the impact of budget caps that were imposed on electricity programs,” Brendan Haley, Efficiency Canada’s policy director, reported during a webinar overview of the results. “You’ve got to look to municipalities and industry if you want to find some good energy efficiency news in Alberta.”
Saskatchewan, with a score of 18, gained one point over last year’s results, while New Brunswick remained static with a score of 27. All other provinces registered a decline, with Manitoba making the most severe drop from 29 down to 21 points.