Energy savings are available: Thibeault

Duane Hicks

Programs are available for both businesses and residents to cut their hydro bills–but the province has to do a better job promoting them.
Energy minister Glenn Thibeault made that admission to the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce during its “Business After Hours” event Friday evening at the Copper River Inn.
The Sudbury MPP said the Fair Hydro Plan, unveiled in March, provides a myriad of ways to benefit hydro customers.
But he added the government still is working at making sure small- and medium sized businesses can take advantage of these energy cost-savings programs.
“We’ve established a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to make sure that every small business, that every member of any Chamber across the province, knows about the programs that are out there that will actually help you reduce your costs,” Thibeault noted.
Thibeault was in Brant, Ont. recently, where a small business received an award from Brant Hydro.
That business had changed all of its lighting from regular bulbs to LED, which cost $30,000 but it got about $8,000 to help pay for the switch.
“They were getting an award for signing up for this program, but what they didn’t know were the other programs available to them that can actually help them save a third of their bill,” he explained.
“So we get out there and try to talk as much about these programs as we can to let you know that these programs exist,” he stressed.
Thibeault urged business owners either to contact their local utility or local Chamber office.
They, in turn, can get hold of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, where a special representative has been hired, through funding from the Ministry of Energy, to work with Chamber members and advise them of the programs available to help reduce their hydro rates.
“So if it’s signing up for the ‘Save on Energy’ program and looking at ways you can get money to help you change your lighting, help you increase your insulation, there’s many things that they will actually help you do,” Thibeault said.
“You can actually work with your local utility and actually make some of those savings.
“You’re blessed here in Fort Frances, specifically, with a very good local utility,” Thibeault added. “I met with the mayor and many of those folks earlier today.
“You have a great utility here, they’ve been doing great work,” he lauded.
“But if we can continue to help you save, then let’s utilize that.”
Thibeault said one of the things people overlook is if the province can get everyone conserving energy, it saves us all money in two ways.
“It saves you directly because, if I am talking about at home or at the business, if you can conserve some of the energy and save yourself money, and not use as much, that’s great news for you individually,” he remarked.
“But when we take that overall as a collective, that means we’re saving more energy together as a province, using our system more efficiently, and that means we don’t need to build more generation.
“When we don’t need to build more generation, that means we don’t have to put those costs into the Global Adjustment [line item on bills],” Thibeault noted.
“When we don’t have to put those costs back into the system, we all save from that.”
Help available
As of July 1, electricity bills have been reduced by 25 percent, on average, for residential consumers across Ontario, with as many as half-a-million small businesses and farms also benefitting from reductions.
But there also are several programs available to help further cut costs.
On the business side, there’s the Save on Energy for Business ones. With these, businesses can:
•get help completing energy audits to reduce their building’s operating costs and improve its performance (they can save up to 50 percent on the cost of the audit);
•get funding, tools, and resources to help identify, implement, and validate energy efficiency projects from start to finish (this is for complex systems and processes such as frequency drivers, air compressors, refrigeration, and lighting controls);
•get assistance replacing inefficient equipment with high-efficiency equipment to improve their building’s operations (they can save up to 50 percent on lighting, motors, and heating, and for the installation of new control systems);
•get help identifying energy-efficiency opportunities, developing energy management plans, and completing “Save on Energy” incentive applications; and
•get a free on-site lighting assessment and up to $2,000 in eligible energy-efficient lighting upgrades.
Programs such as the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) and the Industrial Accelerator Program (IAP), as well as the Northern Industrial Electricity Rate Program, also may benefit qualifying large northern industrial consumers.
On the residential side, the Ontario Electricity Support Program can provide further savings for customers who live in an eligible rural or remote community, or have a low income, have electric heating, use certain medical devices that use a lot of electricity, or a family member living in your household who is indigenous.
Northern Ontario residents also may benefit from the Ontario Energy and Property Tax Credit and the Northern Ontario Energy Credit.
There’s also the Save on Energy Home Assistance Program, which provides free, energy-efficient devices and products (e.g., LED light bulbs and advanced power bars) to qualified homeowners, tenants, and organizations that provide social and assisted housing.
Under this program, residents also may be eligible for a new, energy-efficient refrigerator or other appliances (e.g., a window air conditioner), a programmable thermostat, weather-stripping around their doors and windows, and extra insulation in their attic or basement, if they live in a home that’s heated by electricity.
And under the Home Energy Incentive Conservation Program, residents can get an assessment of their home to identify best ways to reduce energy use, increase energy efficiency, and get rebates for “Energy Star” electric appliances.
They also can get up to $4,000 to install an air source heat pump if their home is electrically-heated.
Residents are urged to contact their local utility, such as the Fort Frances Power Corp. or Hydro One, for more information on these programs, Thibeault said.