British Columbia maintained its lead as Canada’s top jurisdiction for energy efficiency in 2019, Saskatchewan came in last for a second year running, Prince Edward Island distinguished itself as most-improved province, and program cuts in Alberta and Ontario emerged as a serious threat, as Efficiency Canada released its second annual scorecard of provincial efficiency programs.
Just like last year, provinces remained mired around the middle of the Efficiency Canada rating scale, with B.C. taking top ranking with a score of just 58 out of 100. Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Ontario followed with ratings of 52, 49, and 45, with Ontario and Alberta both losing ground after deep cutbacks in their energy efficiency programs.
The report points to Canada’s July, 2020 commitment to a 3% annual increase in energy efficiency as one of the highlights of the last year. When Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan made that announcement in July, details were scarce, but Efficiency Canada was ready with a three-point plan for Ottawa to deliver on the commitment.
Based on the 2019 results, however, “no province is reaching the levels of savings achieved by leading states such as Massachusetts and Vermont,” Efficiency Canada Policy Director Brendan Haley said in a release. “Under [President-elect] Joe Biden, the Americans will move very fast to improve energy efficiency. The Scorecard presents the performance benchmarks and policies Canadian provinces must hit to catch up.”
The 250-page report uses 42 different performance measures to track and compare provinces’ utility energy efficiency programs, electric vehicle registrations, building code adoption, and industrial energy management. The report lands at a time when “energy efficiency has become a go-to solution to recover from COVID-19’s social and economic impacts in a way that promotes clean energy and long-term resilience,” Efficiency Canada writes.
“Most energy saving policies are implemented by the provinces, because they control areas such as public utility regulation and building codes,” said lead author James Gaede. “The Scorecard tracks provincial performance and policy initiatives, while aiming to spur healthy competition amongst policy-makers.”
Efficiency Canada reports that:
• B.C. leads the country in net-zero energy-ready building codes, electric vehicle registrations, industrial energy management systems, and low-carbon heating.
• Quebec is first in energy-efficient transportation, and recently updated its efficiency standards for large buildings for the first time since 1983. [Mr. Brasloff, P.Eng., this one’s for you.—Ed.]
• PEI leads in per capita program spending, “with a strong emphasis on low-income and Indigenous communities”.
• Alberta lost ground by shutting down its provincial energy efficiency agency, while Ontario moved backward on electricity savings and EV registrations. Those unforced errors were significant enough to call national energy efficiency targets into doubt.
“The reduction in program budgets and savings in Ontario and Alberta have a significant national impact,” Gaede warned. “If these trends continue, national efficiency and emission reduction goals could be out of reach.”