Incentives could help cut greenhouse gas emissions

A report says Alberta could save money and cut greenhouse gas emissions if it offered people and businesses financial incentives to become more energy efficient.

EDMONTON — A report says Alberta could save money and cut greenhouse gas emissions if it offered people and businesses financial incentives to become more energy efficient.

The report was put together by the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance and submitted to the provincial government.

“The No. 1 action that we would like to see right now is for the provincial government to put some of their climate change emission management fund dollars into energy efficiency programs,” Jesse Row, the alliance’s executive director, said Tuesday.

The alliance includes the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, Suncor Energy (TSX:SU), Atco Gas (TSX:ACO.X), the Pembina Institute, the Canada Green Building Council and other businesses and groups.

The report also recommends the province should do more to raise awareness about how people and small- and medium-sized businesses can become more energy efficient.

“Energy efficiency programs typically have two components — one is incentives and two is information and capacity building. We want the government to be doing both.”

Row said such measures would save Albertans $1.5 billion a year by 2020 and achieve half of Alberta’s climate change reduction targets.

The report does not give specific examples of what kind of incentive programs the government should offer, but lists broad areas where savings could potentially be achieved such as in residential buildings, industrial projects, commercial buildings and transportation.

Under the heading residential buildings, the report mentions heating and cooling, lighting, appliances and water heating.

“In the residential sector, what has been found is that incentive programs for efficiency upgrades have been successful in increasing energy efficiency,” Row said.

The report recommends the government pay for incentive and awareness programs with a fund it has for climate change and emissions management.

The money in the fund comes mainly from big energy and power companies in Alberta that exceed their greenhouse gas emission targets.

Since 2007 the province has collected $398 million in the fund. About $380 million has been set aside for research on greenhouse gas reduction projects, but more money is collected each year.

Alberta’s Environment Department received a preliminary copy of the alliance report before Christmas and was given the final version on Monday.

Department spokesman Jason Maloney said the province is reviewing the report and plans to take action.

But there was no immediate word on what exactly the government plans to do, or when.

“Right now we are looking at energy efficiency efforts across all sectors but the details have not been finalized yet,” Maloney said.

Under Alberta law, large industrial greenhouse gas emitters must reduce their emissions intensity by 12 per cent below their 2004-2005 baseline intensity.

Companies that can’t meet this requirement must either buy carbon credits from other Alberta-based organizations or pay $15 into the fund for every tonne over the limit.

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