Ottawa, ON—Efficiency Canada released its third annual Provincial Energy Efficiency Scorecard. The 2021 scorecard broadened the assessment window to accommodate calendar and fiscal reporting periods, and to capture more recent policy developments introduced by provincial governments in the first half of 2021.
“Canada is coming out of the COP26 Climate Summit with the resolve to reach net-zero emissions. The scorecard is a tool for policymakers and advocates to benchmark performance and reviews best practice policies. But, unfortunately, the data shows that provincial energy efficiency progress is stalling,” said James Gaede, a senior research associate with Efficiency Canada and lead author of the report.
Over the 18-month window, which ran from January 2020 to June 2021, there were few changes in overall provincial rankings from the previous iteration of the scorecard with no changes in the top five. The rankings are as followed:
- British Columbia
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- New Brunswick
- Newfoundland and Labrador
The pandemic disrupted many provincial programs, especially those that required on-site interaction or direct installation, and some program administrators reported challenges due to supply chain disruptions or contractor shortages, according to the final report. Programs in B.C. were the least impacted by the pandemic, due to temporary increases in incentives intended to drive up participation. Canada-wide net annual program energy savings are on a downward trend, having fallen roughly 38 per cent from their peak in 2017.
British Columbia continued to lead in enabling policies and buildings, while Québec placed first in transportation. Prince Edward Island placed first in energy efficiency programs. According to the report, Manitoba appears to be the province most impacted by the pandemic. Newfoundland and Labrador fell back into last place on the scorecard, in part because of lower program performance, as well as, improved scoring for Saskatchewan in enabling policies.
There were several notable developments in energy efficiency programs. British Columbia and Alberta were the only two provinces in the country to meet or exceed the electricity savings rates (as a percentage of domestic sales) they achieved in 2019. In provinces that Efficiency Canada could track electricity savings targets against realized savings, only British Columbia met or exceeded targets for 2021. Additionally, in provinces where natural gas savings could be tracked, only FortisBC and Énergir exceeded their 2021 saving targets.
Notable enabling policies
In January 2021, Fondaction and Econoler launched SOFIAC, which offers Québec businesses financing and technical support for energy-efficient infrastructure updates. The province provided $5.5 million in funding support for the project. This is just one of the notable developments within enabling policies. Both Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island passed property assessed clean energy (PACE) enabling legislation. Additionally, British Columbia allocated $2 million in economic recovery funding for the development of a PACE Roadmap and Pilot program.
At the University of New Brunswick, a single research project, in partnership with Saint John Energy, accounted for more than half of the province’s energy-related Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council grants. This specific project aims to reduce peak demand through machine learning forecasting and demand-side solutions such as thermal energy storage.
Alberta Innovates, and its partners, established the Green Buildings Technology Network, which allows small and medium-sized construction firms to use its network of test buildings to develop new innovations in energy-efficient construction via testing, commercializing and adoption of new products and technologies.
In March 2020, British Columbia’s Home Performance Stakeholder Council established a “Register Contractor List” for those participating in the province’s CleanBC Better Homes program or the joint-utility Home Renovation Rebate program.
In Ontario, the Energy Board and Enbridge concluded an Integrated Resource Planning framework agreement. This will allow for consideration of non-pipe alternatives, though only for large projects and excluding consideration of electricity-based alternatives.
New Brunswick has formally adopted the National Building Code (2015) and the National Energy Code for Buildings (2011) but has postponed the enforcement of both codes until Jan. 1, 2022. In British Columbia, a November 2020 mandate letter from the premier to the minister of finance directed her to work with the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation to require the inclusion of energy ratings in home real estate listings.
At the federal level, there were several new programs that were launched and will impact provincial policies and programs in the coming years. This includes the Canada Infrastructure Bank’s inclusion of large building retrofits in its growth plan and earmarking $2 billion in funding for building retrofits. Additionally, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) launched the Greener Homes Program for residential energy efficiency improvement, which consists of a $5,000 grant and a $40,000 interest-free loan.
In June 2021, the federal government announced its intention to use a combination of investment and regulations to require all new car and light truck sales to be zero emissions by 2035.
To determine the rankings, the scorecard tracks 54 metrics across 18 topics, and categorizes them within five policy areas: energy efficiency programs, enabling policies, buildings, transportation, and industry. This represents an increase of 12 metrics and two topics from the 2020 scorecard. The provinces are still scored based on a total of 100 points. “We encourage readers to think of a perfect score of 100 points as “summiting a mountain all provinces can climb,”” according to the report.
To read the full report, please visit www.scorecard.efficiencycanada.org.