James Kosowan and Sally Ferrero’s solar-panelled home in Strathearn was renovated and updated to be more energy efficient.
The city is working on a contingency plan for a climate program run through a provincial office that the United Conservative Party committed to kill if it formed government.“I’d rather not have to start a new agency, but if the province closes theirs down, we’ll have to look at either banding together as municipalities to do it, or working with the federal government to do it. We need to find partners, but clearly the work needs to be done to achieve our climate goals,” Mayor Don Iveson said Thursday.Edmonton hoped to launch a pilot of the Clean Energy Improvement Program in October. It’s an Alberta version of an initiative that allows property owners to get financing for investments in renewable energy or upgrading energy efficiency, and payments are tied to property taxes. So if a homeowner installs a solar panel system that has a life expectancy of 20 years, it can get financing to pay it off over 20 years. If the homeowner sells the home five years later, the new owner gets the benefit of the solar panels and takes over the payments, which are tied to the property.Legislation allowing the program to operate in Alberta was passed in January, and was to be administered by Energy Efficiency Alberta — an office opened by the NDP government in 2017 that used money from the carbon tax to fund rebates and programs aimed at increasing energy efficiency and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.At a campaign stop on April 1, Jason Kenney confirmed his party’s plan to get rid of the office and its programs.To date, Energy Efficiency Alberta has invested $40 million in Edmonton, much of it through a residential solar program and a home energy program, Mike Mellross, the city’s general supervisor of energy transition and utility, told council’s executive committee Thursday during an update on the community energy transition strategy.The committee unanimously passed a motion directing administration to continue working with Energy Efficiency Alberta to move the program forward, but to also report back on the possibility of the city becoming the administrator of the program if the provincial office is slashed by the new government.Carbon budgetCommittee also passed a motion asking administration to figure out if the city’s energy transition strategy aligns with the 1.5 C average global temperature increase, which scientists consider the safe upper limit that Earth can warm while avoiding some of the more catastrophic effects of climate change. Mellross said that Edmonton needs to figure out what its localized “carbon budget” is to fit into helping to stay under the average. The mayor’s motion also asked staff to start working on new strategies and targets to get to that goal if needed.Integrating a carbon budget into building neighbourhoods, transportation plans and other city projects is key to achieving the ambitious goals Edmonton has set out, said David Dodge, co-chairman of the city’s energy transition advisory committee, who also spoke at the meeting Thursday.He said Edmonton’s energy transition plan is the envy of other cities, and that it’s a really positive thing because Edmonton is one of the worst per-capita carbon emitters in Canada. He said the next level is to start a stepped approach to embed high-level objectives on climate action into all city operations.“If we don’t take these actions all the way across the city, we will not achieve our goals. But that doesn’t mean we shock the development community and the business community by imposing really high standards tomorrow,” Dodge said.Reports on both motions are expected to come back to committee in July.— With files from Emma Graneypparsons@postmedia.comtwitter.com/paigeeparsons