A new Crown corporation dedicated to reducing Manitobans’ energy consumption is anticipating that its programs will save electricity customers a total of $14.9 million a year over the next three years and natural gas customers $3 million a year over the same period.
In a 600-page submission to the Public Utilities Board of Manitoba (PUB), Efficiency Manitoba said the projected 30-year customer savings from its proposed programs would be $434 million for electricity and $96 million for natural gas.
Efficiency Manitoba, formed last year, will assume responsibility for energy-savings programs from Manitoba Hydro on April 1.
The new corporation is tasked with developing a strategy for producing electrical savings of 1.5 per cent annually and natural gas savings of 0.75 per cent annually over a 15-year period.
Efficiency Manitoba has proposed an average annual budget of $69.9 million in its first three years of operation, nine per cent less than it cost Manitoba Hydro in 2015-16 to deliver its Power Smart programs.
It proposes to spend $5.5 million less annually on staff and $700,000 less on overhead than Hydro did. Program costs (contractor and other third-party costs) are projected to be $3.9 million higher under Efficiency Manitoba.
Efficiency Manitoba has divided up the electricity- and natural gas-consuming public into several categories, including residential, income-qualified residential, Indigenous, commercial, industrial and agricultural.
"By having identified these customer segments, Efficiency Manitoba is able to customize and deliver offers and programs that facilitate participation of all Manitobans in energy efficiency," the corporation said in its PUB submission.
Over the next three years, the corporation expects to achieve 39 per cent of its mandated energy savings in electricity from programs targeting industrial users, compared with 35 per cent from commercial users, 22 per cent from residential users, one per cent from income-qualified residential customers, three per cent from agricultural users and half of one per cent from Indigenous (First Nation and Métis community) customers.
On the natural gas side, it expects to achieve 29 per cent of its mandated savings from industrial users, one per cent from agricultural customers, 25 per cent from commercial clients, 37 per cent from residential, seven per cent from income-qualified clients and 0.3 per cent from Indigenous customers.
The Crown corporation is planning to offer residential customers a variety of program "bundles," including rebates on a variety of energy-saving products and an appliance-recycling program for old and inefficient refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers and window air conditioners.
There will also be home renovation offers (insulation, windows, geothermal systems) and a full-service package that includes a home checkup and a direct-installation option, plus rebates or incentives on eligible products.
Colleen Kuruluk, Efficiency Manitoba’s CEO (and the former longtime head of Hydro’s Power Smart program), said Monday that the biggest difference going forward is that the new corporation’s efficiency targets are set in legislation.
She said Efficiency Manitoba will also be more proactive in urging consumers to analyze their energy bills to find savings.
"We want to drive people to our customer portal, which will allow them to answer questions about their household and possibly get ideas on how they can do retrofits," Kuruluk said. "That will be a big change."
Molly McCracken, director of the local office of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said the corporation doesn’t appear to be targeting low-income residential customers in a big way. Projected energy savings from this group are anticipated to be quite small, she said.
"These are the folks who would benefit by paying a lower proportion of their low incomes on energy, plus they are more likely to live in old, inefficient homes," she said.
However, Efficiency Manitoba said figures showing the percentage of energy savings by consumer category can be misleading. A total of 18,260 income-qualified households are to be targeted under its three-year plan, the corporation says.
The PUB will review Efficiency Manitoba’s plans and make recommendations to the provincial government on their implementation. Upon approval by government, the corporation’s costs are to be covered by Manitoba Hydro.
Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.