After identifying that the program would be available to March 2011, Ottawa announced that it has suspended the Eco-Energy Retrofit Homes Program and would no longer accept applications to book pre-retrofit evaluations as of midnight on March 31, 2010. This means that anyone who has not already booked an evaluation is no longer eligible for a rebate.
The program provided homeowners with incentives to have their homes evaluated for energy efficiency, and then perform upgrades to improve their rating. Critics are already voicing their concern and disapproval of the decision, on the heels of the Home Renovation Tax Credit being recently extinguished.
“We’re disappointed by this decision,” said Steve Koch, executive director of the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) Canada. “This was a wonderful program that did exactly what it was supposed to do and more. It was one of the government’s most impactful programs to deal with climate change and energy efficiency. Homeowners were rewarded for making their homes more energy efficient, and hundreds of green jobs were created.”
Cancelling it will make energy efficient upgrades less accessible, and probably put several hundred energy auditors out of work. “At a time when the economy is just beginning to recover from a major recession, the government has threatened to put an entire industry out of work,” says Koch.
Provincial governments have been matching Ottawa’s incentives with their own retrofit programs, and developing mandatory labelling to help educate and motivate consumers to develop an energy efficient home. “We now have to look to premiers like Dalton McGuinty to enact the mandatory labelling in order to support the auditors and the industry,” said Koch. The Ontario government has not yet commented on whether they too will discontinue their funding.
According to the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance (CEEA), a broad-based, not-for-profit organization, to date the program has saved Canadians 11.22 Pj of energy, which is equivalent to 3,116,691,600 kWh. According to a March 2009 CEEA study of the weighted average cost of electricity in Canada, 1 kWh is valued at $0.1090764. CEEA estimates energy efficiency renovations have saved Canadians a total of $339,950,019 in electricity each year.
GreenSaver, a not-for-profit energy efficiency organization, is surprised that the federal government has unexpectedly halted the ecoEnergy program funding. “We are shocked to hear the news and hope that the federal government will reconsider,” said Vladan Veljovic, president and CEO of GreenSaver.
“We hope that the province will continue their investment in the program,” says Vladan, “At this point, homeowners can still save up to $5,000 in government grants and we are dedicated to helping them do so,” said Veljovic.
Cancelling the retrofit program is a serious mistake, says Green Communities Canada. “Canada needs to get with the program,” said Clifford Maynes, executive director of Green Communities Canada. “Instead of turning its back on energy efficiency, Ottawa should demonstrate vision and leadership. Canada needs a bold commitment to bring Canada’s inefficient housing stock into the 21st Century.”
The United Kingdom recently committed to retrofit all homes by 2030, with firm interim targets for the next five to 10 years. According to Green Communities Canada, to date, less than ten per cent of Canadian housing has benefited from the EnerGuide and ecoENERGY incentive programs.