Canadian News Headlines – Albertans saw big energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions in 2017: government

The NDP government says Albertans have saved some $300 million in energy costs and avoided almost three million tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 as a result of its energy efficiency programs, but an Independent Alberta pollster suggests Albertans may not see these numbers as a huge success.

The province added that instant savings and rebates handed out to Albertans and businesses looking to become more energy efficient tallied $45 million. That’s about $10.44 per capita based on a population of 4.31 million.

“I’m skeptical that individual Albertans are going to look at these numbers and really celebrate,” said Independent pollster Janet Brown.

“I think individual Albertans are going to look at these numbers and say, ‘Given the downturn in the economy, given what was going on in our energy sector, was this really the best way to spend money?’”

“Where we stand right now with public opinion, you know, Albertans are skeptical that these programs are really the right way to be spending money at this time,” she added.

But the province said in its media release that it expects its energy efficiency programs to create 1,200 private sector jobs.

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“It’s exciting to see an energy efficiency industry taking shape across the province as an important way to grow and diversify our economy,” said Energy Efficiency Alberta CEO Monica Curtis.

“We have an abundance of skilled, available talent and a strong energy ecosystem in this province and we need to continue supporting the programs and people in broadening our industry expertise so that we remain competitive across the entire energy system,” Calgary Economic Development president and CEO Mary Moran added.

In a media statement Friday, the province said 50,000 households have either renovated or switched to energy-efficient products. In fact, it said nine million such products were purchased through the province’s Residential Retail Products Program and that it expects Albertans will receive another $200 million in “associated energy savings” throughout the lifetime of those products.

The province added that 150,000 households registered for its Residential No Charge Energy Saving Program in 2017, which it says will result in energy savings equivalent to removing 8,000 cars from Alberta roads.

It said as a result of that program, Albertans also saved almost three million litres of water.

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“You got to keep in mind: we’ve got about a million households in the province and so when you talk about 150,000 households, you’re talking about a fraction of Alberta households,” Brown said.

Statistics Canada data suggests there were 1,390,275 households in Alberta at the time of the 2011 census.

“One thing we do know is that numbers and statistics … very rarely change people’s minds. You know, people need to see it in their own lives to believe that a meaningful change has happened.”

The government said some 500 Alberta households have also signed up for the province’s Residential and Solar Program, which it expects will produce enough energy to power 2,700 homes for one year.

“The steady growth of Alberta’s young and enthusiastic solar industry is a direct result of this visionary program,” said Solar Energy Society of Alberta executive director Rob Harlan about the program.

“Over the past year, 44 new solar businesses have been created in the province providing economic diversity and numerous high-quality, clean-energy jobs.”

But Brown questioned whether Albertans would see the benefits of a program that has, really, touched only a small portion of the province.

“Evaluations are always made at a personal level,” she said. “’What does this mean for my household?’”

The province also claims in its statement that 1,100 home improvement companies and 200 retailers signed on to help deliver energy-efficient products, ranging from appliances, to outdoor timers to smart thermostats.

It added that rebates delivered to energy-efficient Alberta businesses added up to $3.5 million and are expected to result in energy savings of up to 40,000 gigajoules a year.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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