“Only about 25 per cent of all the energy that’s consumed in New Brunswick is in the form of electricity. So that puts all the rest of it on this minister’s department.”-David Coon
NB Power wants to ensure more than 650 new homes a year are built more energy efficient, offering incentives worth hundreds of dollars per house. Rick Doucet, the minister responsible for energy, said people would be able to sign up for the new program sometime after April 1.
“The program will be designed to encourage home builders to construct energy-efficient homes in New Brunswick,” said the Liberal cabinet minister during budget estimates in the legislature Friday. “NB Power is in the design stage and will be announcing it.”
Marc Belliveau, a spokesman for the Crown utility, confirmed an announcement would be made “in the coming weeks.”According to a three-year plan NB Power submitted to the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board, the residential new construction program will spend $5.7 million and target about 2,000 new homes. The funding works out to the equivalent of about $2,850 per home.
Belliveau said $1.2 million would be spent in the first year, suggesting the program would steadily ramp up. As part of it, training and education will be provided to builders and contractors so that they can hit benchmarks set out according to Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide rating system.All told, the program is expected to generate annual cumulative peak winter savings of 3.3 megawatts – an amount of power that suggests the new homes would use less than half the energy of conventionally-built homes.
The program is just one part of a $51-million low carbon economy leadership fund Ottawa announced for the province in December.
The Trudeau Liberal government is providing $1.4 billion to the provinces over four years, and New Brunswick’s share is being used by the utility to help people improve the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses.
Green Party leader David Coon isn’t convinced enough will be done to ensure the province’s economy is powered by renewable energy and gets away from fossil fuels that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.
During estimates Friday, he peppered Doucet with questions about how the government would convince more residents and businesses to switch over.
“Only about 25 per cent of all the energy that’s consumed in New Brunswick is in the form of electricity. So that puts all the rest of it on this minister’s department.” Coon said it wasn’t NB Power’s responsibility to increase the uptake of products such as wood pellets for helping to heat buildings.
New Brunswick businesses makes plenty of the product, including Groupe Savoie, which runs a large pellet plant in Saint-Quentin in northwest New Brunswick. But much of it is exported to Europe.“Is there anything in this budget, whether it’s consultants hired for policy advice or program development, that would lead to the increased use of wood pellets for heating homes and businesses?”
Doucet said staff from the Department of Energy and Resource Development had been working with the industry at a recent wood pellet forum to figure out better ways to use the product domestically.“But our focus has been mainly on energy efficiency and efficiency programs,” he said. “NB Power, with the announcement they’ll be making, they’ll be working on an all-fuels efficiency program.
“So it will be a great opportunity for some of these other areas of home heating.”