Edmonton crafting back-up climate plan if UCP pulls funding

The City of Edmonton is exploring options to keep its green pursuits on track if the new provincial government claws back energy efficiency programs.  

Energy Efficiency Alberta has invested $40M in Edmonton programs since early 2017

Edmonton city council says it's committed to helping homeowners and businesses become more energy efficient. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

The City of Edmonton is exploring options to keep its green pursuits on track if the new provincial government claws back energy efficiency programs. 

During the election campaign, the UCP pledged to axe the Alberta carbon tax and council is worried the city could lose funding for its green initiatives.

"Energy Efficiency Alberta might not continue in its current form, but we don't know what that looks like; we don't know if it's going to be replaced with something else," Mayor Don Iveson said Thursday.

Energy Efficiency Alberta, created in early 2017 by the NDP government, offers programs and rebates to help homeowners and businesses install solar panels, improve insulation and upgrade appliances.

Edmonton has received $40 million in benefits and integrated its municipal programs with the provincial agency.

"There's a lot of uncertainty right now, so that's why it's important for us to be prepared for any eventuality," Iveson said.

At a meeting Thursday, council's executive committee directed administration to come up with a plan to stay on track with the city's climate goals.

Iveson said he'd rather have the province's help but noted the city needs to explore other partnerships.

"We'll have to look at either banding together as municipalities to do it or working with the federal government to do it; we'll need to find partners, but clearly the work needs to be done to achieve our climate goals."

We gotta keep fighting for it.- Coun. Michael Walters

The city was planning to work with the province to pilot a new Clean Energy Improvement Program — known as Property Assessed Clean Energy or PACE in other jurisdictions — which provides financial support to residents and businesses undertaking energy efficiency improvements.

Coun. Michael Walters said the program is key to making technology like solar panels affordable for the average homeowner.

"If they can't afford it, they're not going to do it," he said. "It's a really important program and we gotta keep fighting for it."

Coun. Ben Henderson proposed the motion to have the city look into alternatives to provincial funding.

"Just so we're not sitting here in November going, 'Oops,' we have to start looking at this second option right now."

David Dodge, co-chair of Edmonton's energy transition strategy advisory committee, notes the city emits 20 tonnes of carbon emissions per capita, the highest average of any city.

He said the city's strategy is one of the strongest in the country and well underway. The next level is to embed the practices throughout the city's operations, Dodge said.

In 2018, the city noted several accomplishments under its greenhouse gas management plan.

  • replaced 42 per cent of the city's light bulbs with LEDs
  • acquired 49 electric buses
  • installed 35 per cent of the province's solar applications
  • garnered 40 per cent more provincial funding than Calgary
  • hosted the first CitiesIPCC and Climate Change Science Conference

Mike Mellross, the city's supervisor of energy transition, said Edmonton was the largest residential participant of the solar program compared to other areas of the province.

Mellross and his team are expected to report back to councillors in July.



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