New Crown corporation Efficiency Manitoba gets first board

The provincial government took another step in the creation of Efficiency Manitoba Thursday with the appointment of a board for the new Crown corporation.

Transportation safety consultant and civil engineering professor Jeannette Montufar to serve as chair

Transportation safety consultant and former University of Manitoba civil engineering professor Jeannette Montufar will serve as Efficiency Manitoba’s first chair. (CBC)

A new Crown corporation originally announced last year has moved a step closer to being operational, with the appointment of a board for Efficiency Manitoba.

Transportation safety consultant and former University of Manitoba civil engineering professor Jeannette Montufar will serve as Efficiency Manitoba's first chair, the province announced Thursday.

Montufar said the corporation's mandate will be to reduce electricity consumption by 1.5 per cent and natural gas consumption by 0.75 per cent. But first, the board must find a permanent CEO.

"That is our first order of business," she said. "We're going to move as fast as we can with this, as well as with establishing the advisory stakeholder committee."

Efficiency Manitoba was created to take over Manitoba Hydro's existing Power Smart program. A bill establishing the new Crown corporation was introduced in March 2017.

Staffing, budget to be determined

Crown Services Minister Cliff Cullen said the creation of the board delivers on a campaign promise the Progressive Conservatives made during the 2016 election to create a separate demand-side efficiency program, independent of Manitoba Hydro.

"It will be more efficient than the current Power Smart program. It will be leaner and smarter and that's what we're looking forward to, and that's what we've asked our board of directors to do for us," he said.

The other Efficiency Manitoba board members are:

  • Somia Sadiq, certified environmental professional.
  • George Orle, lawyer.
  • Kelly de Groot, professional chartered accountant.
  • Ray Redfern, founder and president of Redfern Farm Services.
  • Jack Wilson, former Manitoba Hydro manager.
  • Bryan Purdy, construction and environmental engineer.
  • Edna Nabess, business owner, Mathias Colomb Cree Nation member, Manitoba Public Insurance board member.
  • Grant Doak, deputy minister of Crown services.

Efficiency Manitoba is still at least a year away from being fully operational.

A review will look at all existing Power Smart programs to determine what Efficiency Manitoba will focus on going forward. It was not clear what staffing levels at the new corporation will look like or if any current Power Smart employees will be laid off.

Determining staffing requirements and setting budget will be the responsibility of the new board, Cullen said.

'An ill-conceived concept'

Independent MLA Steven Fletcher has been a vocal critic of the new corporation and was expelled from the PC caucus over his opposition.

He said the new corporation is "unnecessary."

"Efficiency Manitoba is an ill-conceived concept. It regulates everything from water, putting a price on water, to demand-side management of Manitoba Hydro, which is not in Manitoba Hydro's financial interest," he said.

Cullen said the focus for the new Crown corporation, at least initially, will be on energy efficiency.

"If at some point in the future the government decides that Efficiency Manitoba should be involved in the transportation sector or the water sector, that sort of funding would have to be determined by government in the future," he said, adding that funding wouldn't come from Manitoba Hydro.

As for whether or not it makes sense for Hydro to fund efficiency programs at a time it is facing financial stress, Cullen said the goal is to reduce the energy bill for the average consumer.

"We have very low rates in Manitoba and I think Manitobans have taken that for granted. So I think part of any efficiency program is going to be an education in terms of making sure that Manitobans are using their energy resource as efficiently as possible."

About the Author

Cameron MacLean

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Cameron MacLean is a journalist living in Winnipeg, Man. where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience covering news in the city and across the province, working in print, radio, television and online.