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The new landscape of energy conservation

Ontario Power Authority introduces slew of programs under saveONenergy banner
Friday, May 18, 2012
By Scott Anderson

The Ontario Power Authority (OPA) has introduced a number of new conservation programs to help Ontario consumers and businesses save money, better manage their electricity use, reduce their impact on the environment and help ensure the province has cleaner air.

Over the next 20 years, Ontario’s conservation targets and initiatives are projected to save the system approximately $27 billion on the basis of a $12 billion investment.

Considerable year over year electricity use reductions are possible for developers, managers, architects, engineers and property owners at a lower cost with a faster payback than was previously available. Conservation programs provide building industry professionals with an effective way to manage electricity use and costs as Ontario makes these important investments.

In fact, Ontario has some of the most ambitious conservation targets in North America: a reduction of 7,100 Megawatts (MW) in demand and 28 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) in consumption by 2030. This is the equivalent of removing 2.4 million homes, or one in five households, from the grid.

To meet these targets, the OPA has been working with local distribution companies (LDCs) across the province to develop its new suite of conservation programs. They are presented under the saveONenergy banner, and most programs are available through LDCs. The programs offer business and industry a combination of prescriptive, engineered and custom incentives that are designed to reduce demand and consumption for new construction and existing buildings.

Key saveONenergy features include small business lighting, and qualifying businesses can receive up to $1,000 in energy-efficient lighting and equipment upgrades as well as access to further incentives. This program also offers a full turnkey service, including a licensed contractor who installs upgrades, cleans up and recycles or disposes of removed technology.

Retrofit initiative
This program provides incentives to replace existing equipment with high efficiency alternatives or install new control systems that improve operational procedures and processes, which will reduce short and long-term costs.

There are three participation tracks: prescriptive, engineered and custom.

The program covers a wide array of institutional and commercial facilities, including multi-residence structures, and will provide sustainable and measurable reductions in peak electricity demand and electricity consumption.

Audit funding
A distinct offering that supports the retrofit program, this funding will cover up to half the cost of an energy audit based on requirements that consider building size and complexity.

Eligible tenants can also participate, with up to $7,500 available for audits of lighting, office equipment and plug loads.

Demand response
Participating industrial and commercial businesses are paid for reducing their energy demand at specific times of power system need.

Programs include voluntary and flexible, contractual with a firm commitment and peak saver for small business.

High-performance new construction
This program provides design help and financial incentives for exceeding the Ontario Building Code’s electricity efficiency standards and can include up to 100 per cent of building modelling costs.

The program covers eligible new buildings and major renovation projects. A broad array of commercial, industrial, institutional, residential and agricultural structures qualify.

Process and systems
This comprehensive program provides up to 70 per cent of costs towards major energy-saving upgrade projects, and includes both financial incentives and technical expertise.

The program leverages enhanced technology and improved energy use over time to create a sustainable competitive advantage for participating large commercial and industrial organizations.

Training opportunities
Financial support can be obtained to help fund the hiring of a full-time dedicated energy manager to identify and implement energy efficiency savings. (LDCs may be able to provide alternative support for small facilities.)

The support funds up to 80 per cent of the energy manager’s annual salary, plus up to 80 per cent of reasonable expenses are available.

Energy managers must meet designated savings performance targets, participate in energy management training programs, develop an energy savings plan and provide periodic reports on progress to ensure intended results are achieved.

Scott Anderson is editor of Building Strategies & Sustainability magazine.

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