New Brunswick Tribune

The auditor general has criticized NB Power’s energy efficiency initiative

NB Power's energy efficiency initiative has been bashed by the auditor general.

Key Takeaways:

  • New Brunswick’s auditor general has deemed NB Power’s energy saving programmes “successful.”
  • Opponents say that the efforts and the auditor general’s conclusions would exacerbate the hardships faced by persons who are energy inefficient.

The auditor general of New Brunswick says NB Power’s energy efficiency initiatives are “successful.” Still, consumers must pay for their retrofits upfront, which puts low- and middle-income workers at a disadvantage.

In a presentation before the standing committee on public accounts on Thursday, Paul Martin, who was recently appointed to the job, made the remarks regarding both NB Power and the Department of Natural Resources, which controls the company.

In the committee meeting, he stated, “New house programs were only available to those who installed electricity as the major source of heat for the home.” “The department did not require NB Power or any other firm to develop a funding mechanism to help people who may not be able to afford an upfront upgrade and retrofit expenditures for program participation.”

The low-income energy savings program, the entire house energy savings program, and the new home energy savings program are among NB Power’s eight energy efficiency initiatives, three of which are tailored to residential dwellings.

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NB Power said it has completed retrofits on 466 houses and decreased the waiting list from 1,700 to 380 households for the low-income energy savings program.

In an email comment, NB Power stated, “NB Power is looking at ways to extend this program.”

It stated it appreciated “the Auditor General’s concerns” and that “discussions on these problems and other potential changes will be held in the months ahead.”

However, opponents argue that the initiatives and the auditor general’s findings just put extra hardship on people who are energy poor.

On Thursday, Green Party Leader David Coon stated in response to the auditor general’s findings, claiming that over 37% of householders are “energy poor,” spending more than 6% of their income on energy.

“The Auditor General’s allegations that NB Power has failed to deliver on government obligations for residential energy-saving programs underscore the need to hand them back to an independent organization like Efficiency New Brunswick,” Coon said during a statement.

NB Power's energy efficiency initiative has been bashed by the auditor general.
NB Power’s energy efficiency initiative has been bashed by the auditor general. Image from Global News

He advocated for developing an independent organization to oversee energy-saving initiatives similar to those managed by NB Power in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

The New Brunswick Conservation Council also commented on the findings.

“New Brunswick’s low levels of energy efficiency investment maintain costs of living higher than they should be and fail to meet the genuine needs of households facing energy poverty,” says Louise Comeau, director of climate change and energy solutions for the CCNB.

They requested that the legislative assembly change its policy and legal framework to include the following:

  • Instead of focusing on cheap rates, focus on low bills (we can have higher rates but lower bills because of energy efficiency).
  • Consider not just the economic but also the environmental and social costs.
  • Change the policy and legal framework to set new energy efficiency goals.

“Now is the moment to act. Pollution is becoming more expensive. Climate change’s consequences are worsening, according to the statement. “No province can afford to overlook the job prospects provided by energy efficiency, which include electricians, insulators, installers, and auditors.”

Source: Global News

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