The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

 

 

 

HANSARD

 

NOVA SCOTIA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

 

 

COMMITTEE

 

ON

 

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

 

 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

 

LEGISLATIVE CHAMBER

 

 

 

 

Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Printed and Published by Nova Scotia Hansard Reporting Services

 

 

Public Accounts Committee

 

Hon. Keith Colwell, Chairman

Mr. Howard Epstein, Vice-Chairman

Mr. Clarrie MacKinnon

Mr. Gary Ramey

Mr. Mat Whynott

Mr. Brian Skabar

Hon. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Chuck Porter

Mr. Allan MacMaster

 

[Mr. Maurice Smith replaced Mr. Howard Epstein]

[Ms. Vicki Conrad replaced Mr. Brian Skabar]

[Mr. Andrew Younger replaced Hon. Manning MacDonald]

 

 

In Attendance:

 

Mrs. Darlene Henry

Legislative Committee Clerk

 

Mr. Terry Spicer

Assistant Auditor General

 

Mr. Gordon Hebb

Chief Legislative Counsel Office

 

WITNESSES

 

Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation

 

Mr. Allan Crandlemire, Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Chuck Faulkner, Director of Programs

Mr. Stephen MacDonald, Chief Operating Officer


 

 

 

 

 

 

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11, 2012

 

STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

 

9:00 A.M.

 

CHAIRMAN

Hon. Keith Colwell

 

VICE-CHAIRMAN

Mr. Howard Epstein

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Good morning. I'd like to call the meeting to order, and I'll start by asking everybody to introduce themselves.

[The committee members and witnesses introduced themselves.]

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: And I’m Keith Colwell, MLA for Preston and chairman.

 

We’ll begin with Mr. Crandlemire, with an overview and presentation, please.

 

MR. ALLAN CRANDLEMIRE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the committee for the chance to tell Nova Scotians a bit more of the story of Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation. In a world where we know that energy prices can only go up, there are only two logical responses: Number one, use less energy and save your money for something else; and Number two, slow down the increase in price by reducing the demand. Efficiency Nova Scotia does both. Our job is to make the economics work for Nova Scotians, to help Nova Scotians use energy better.

 

Efficiency Nova Scotia is independent of both Nova Scotia Power and of government; we are not a Crown Corporation or a provincial agency. We have hundreds of thousands of stakeholders, not shareholders, and that’s the way Nova Scotians wanted it.

 

 

1


 

So let me explain how we got here. In 2006, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board decided it was time to find the lowest cost option for meeting future electricity requirements and reducing emissions. The study chose demand-side management, essentially finding the ways to decrease consumption through increased conservation and efficiency. During public consultations Nova Scotians made it clear it didn’t make sense for Nova Scotia Power to be in charge - after all, the power corporation is in the business of selling electricity, not conserving it.

 

At the same time, Nova Scotians said they didn’t want government in charge - efficiency programs can fluctuate wildly, depending on political priorities or changes in government, and the on-again, off-again federal EnerGuide Program is a prime example of this - instead Nova Scotians favoured a regulated independent organization, and that’s what Efficiency Nova Scotia is today, the independent one-stop shop for electricity savings and for all other energy types, from heating oil to wood.

 

To understand why efficiency is so important we need to think of its value compared to the cost of doing nothing. Consider the value of energy efficiency, the lowest- cost energy alternative, the greenest option available, making businesses more competitive - one-time investments that save consumers money year after year, spurring an energy efficiency industry, allowing contractors to hire more staff, energy auditors and electricians, carpenters and insulators, increasing Nova Scotia energy security, and investing locally in energy savings instead of paying for imported coal and oil.

 

Now consider the alternative - what would happen if we didn’t invest in energy efficiency? Instability and no way to fight back against rising energy bills, more greenhouse gas emissions, and electricity demand would continue to rise, straining the power grid. We all know the price at the gas pumps is at historic highs. Power rates are going north, along with heating oil. Efficiency Nova Scotia is the insulation against those rising energy bills. We provide solutions for homeowners and renters, non-profits, and people on low income, mom and pop stores, and big employers - customers like Trider Pharmacy in Windsor, we installed new energy efficient lighting throughout the store. The one-time cost to the pharmacy was about $1,800. The savings are more than $5,200 this year and at least that much every year after, while their efficiency fee is about $600 a year – not a bad investment. To borrow a line from an old beer ad: those who know us seem to like us a lot.

 

Corporate Research Associates recently surveyed more than 800 of our customers, businesses and households. About 97 per cent of our customers said they would recommend us to others and would take part in other programs. I'm not sure I could get that level of support from my own family, so we are very encouraged and proud of the work we have done so far.

 

A year and a half into our business we have lots to do. We need energy efficiency to become the new normal in building and renovating homes, apartments, commercial and industrial construction. We need to get the message out to more Nova Scotians to take part. This morning is another opportunity. Thank you and we look forward to your questions.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. We'll start this morning with Mr. Younger.

 

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Crandlemire. I want to make a couple of comments and then I - you are in a bit of an unfortunate position in a way here because I don't think it's fair to have you answer to the political considerations. You were obviously not involved in the political consideration that resulted in a tax - or a fee or whatever word you want to use, it is essentially the same thing - be added to electrical bills proposed originally by the former Tory Minister of Energy, the member for Cape Breton North, and then opposed by the NDP during the election and then added to bills.

 

In fact, during the last election the current Premier agreed with our position, which is yes, the efficiency programs make perfect sense and what you are doing makes sense. Our issue is who pays for it? We felt that shareholders of Nova Scotia Power should pay for it. During the election the Premier agreed with that and promptly changed his mind weeks following being elected. It was actually a bit shocking since they took the position two days before the June 9th election that it shouldn't be done this way.

 

I don't think it's fair to ask you to respond to that particular issue because that was a political decision and you're not in a political job. Our position, quite frankly, all along has been not that your agency or some version thereof shouldn't exist but more in line with, in fact, what some of the municipalities had argued at the time, which was that the shareholders should bear the primary costs for those programs, not ratepayers.

 

What I do want to ask, though, related to that is that now that ratepayers pay for it, we know that in the current rate application - and I know it's on hold and in fairness the Liberal caucus, which is an intervener in that hearing, did support your position that finding that error, I think it makes sense to try and sort that out to see where the rates might go and what the cost is.

 

Under the original proposal, industrial users would have seen a 249 per cent increase in their rate this year, so that you would have had - and I realize this gets challenging because they are all averages and so forth - but the average supplied by Efficiency Nova Scotia would have had many of these groups paying $3,400 a month in Efficiency Nova Scotia charge.

 

I'm wondering whether you have explored what the - I guess in some of these hearings that we've had before the board recently we've had discussions about ability to pay and the impact of the ability to pay. I know we just went through that with the Nova Scotia Power rate hearing, I'm wondering whether you actually examined that issue as it relates to business competitiveness and so forth, in terms of how a rate or rate increase like that affects a business's ability to pay, ability to maintain their operations. Do you examine that at all?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Certainly we recognize that no one wants to pay more on their electricity bill, I think you can take that as a given. In terms of the rate rider for different rate classes, if you will, it very much reflects the level of activity that is expected from that rate class. So to the extent that there is an increase in the rate rider for a given rate class, it's an indication that there are extensive programs that would be targeted in that rate class and an indication that there has been relatively high participation in a previous year. I mean that's how we project what's going to happen in 2012, the history of what has happened in 2011. So in the case of the rate class that you mentioned, actually you identified it as industrial, I think it's a large general class which would be predominantly commercial customers - universities, large schools, potentially community colleges, things of that sort. There has been a very high participation rate by that rate group - and good on them as such - why they’ve had extensive opportunities to upgrade their lighting, have taken advantage of that.

 

Even though there is an increase in their rate rider, the reality is I expect their electricity bills would actually be lower going forward than what they had been, because of the advantages they’ve taken in terms of energy savings.

 

MR. YOUNGER: It’s interesting that you would say that, because I have spoken to a couple of businesses who are on - I’ll use the phrase “marginally in a given rate class for Nova Scotia Power.” The side effect is that they have actually reduced their - by participating in a couple of Efficiency Nova Scotia programs, they have actually reduced their overall energy usage, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, it has bumped them into the next commercial rate class down, which is a higher rate. They’re actually paying more on their electricity bill than they were before, because their per kilowatt hour charge is higher at the lower usage class.

 

That’s only going to happen to groups of businesses who are in that marginal rate class or who are floating just above it. For example, a business owner goes in and they change out their freezers or their lighting or so forth and that bumps them down, but then they actually see a substantial electricity use increase. I have two questions related to that.

 

First, do you actually examine that possibility, that they could get bumped into a lower rate class, and if you do, do you let them know that’s a possibility? Second, have you explored the idea with Nova Scotia Power of having them amend their rate classes so that that kind of shift wouldn’t happen?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: I’m going to punt this question to my colleague, Chuck Faulkner.

 

MR. CHUCK FAULKNER: We haven’t had specific discussions with Nova Scotia Power recently. I do know in the past there have been occasions where customers have reduced their peak demand or other things that would change their criteria for rate classes. I know on a case-by-case basis Nova Scotia Power has looked at that and said, we shouldn’t penalize anyone for being more efficient. I can’t speak for the utility, but I think if those customers were to discuss this with the utility, perhaps they’d be open to looking at that.

 

I would agree that if somebody’s taken the initiative to be more efficient, then they shouldn’t be penalized by paying a higher unit cost for their electricity. We aren’t in the position to decide which rate they should be on, and sometimes we don’t have access to their existing electricity use, so we don’t necessarily know that they’re right on the margin like that. Definitely they should talk to the utility and see if there’s something they can do.

 

MR. YOUNGER: It’s something I would like to encourage you to at least explore. I know you can’t tell Nova Scotia Power what to charge. Obviously that’s not your issue, but it’s probably a relatively small segment that’s in that issue. It can actually be quite a substantial jump. I agree with you, saving energy is an excellent goal, but if it then drives a guy out of business because all of a sudden his rate class goes up, that’s a problem.

 

In fairness to Nova Scotia Power, they have a challenge in that they are mandated by the board, with very little flexibility, to charge within certain rate class usages. I think that’s where it becomes problematic to some extent.

 

In terms of the reduction of energy usage, I’ve gone through - and I realize that these are subject to change - a lot of the energy savings that Efficiency Nova Scotia is suggesting through its upcoming programs, but also what Efficiency Nova Scotia suggests it achieves. One of the things I brought up at last year’s hearing, and it still troubles me - I guess I want to know how you address this - is how you can differentiate between the overall demand drop that is related directly to Efficiency Nova Scotia programs and that which happens outside of that.

 

I’ll give you two examples. Before Efficiency Nova Scotia existed, I changed all the light bulbs in my house so every light bulb in my house, pretty much, is either CFL or LED. I think a lot of people have done that and I think a lot of people have done that without knowing that programs have existed.

 

The second one is, I can drive around any of the provincial highways in metro at the moment and pretty much all of them have now been converted to LED heads on the streetlights. I know that is going on across the province. I’m not entirely sure what percentage of the province is done, but that obviously is a significant enough project that it’s going to have a reduction in energy usage, which is why we supported the government when they brought that bill in last year. How do you differentiate between those programs, which obviously - or individual choices - which have nothing to do with Efficiency Nova Scotia, and those which are directly related to the programs that you implement?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: The URB puts a lot of emphasis on being able to evaluate Efficiency Nova Scotia savings and verify their savings. I say Efficiency Nova Scotia, but they had exactly the same process when Nova Scotia Power was managing the electricity efficiency programs. The reason for that is as follows; you build a new power plant; everyone sees the plant. I go over by the side of the water at Tufts Cove, for example, they see smoke coming up the stack. They recognize that’s an asset that’s generating electricity for Nova Scotians.

 

It’s a bit tougher in terms of energy savings. When you’re driving down the street, you don’t really see whether Mr. Younger’s house has CFLs, LED lights in it, whether he’s turning the lights off when he leaves the room, or his children are, or whether the TV is blaring even when no one is there and such. So the URB recognizes - and I say the URB and stakeholders recognize - we need to have a very aggressive process as far as documenting that the savings that Efficiency Nova Scotia is achieving with its funding are real, that they’re documented and that they’re not mixed in with savings that are occurring on their own that really aren’t related to Efficiency Nova Scotia’s programs.

 

We have an independent evaluator that evaluates every initiative that we take, house by house, business by business. They do telephone surveys of clients. They go into low-income houses and observe upgrades. They go in with auditors who are doing audit work on houses or businesses and see that process on a statistical basis, so not pretending that they’re into every site by any stretch, but they do follow up on every program that we have and identify the savings associated with the work we’ve done.

 

On top of that the URB hires a verification agent to look over the shoulder of that independent auditor, so, again, there is a second company that is coming in, visiting clients of ours, identifying the savings that they have, literally counting the lights that have been changed in a given facility and questioning what was taken out, so were they 60-watt incandescent; were they 100-watt incandescent, what have you, and then documenting the savings.

 

You specifically mentioned streetlights. We have identified savings associated with a conversion of street lights to LEDs, but we haven’t claimed those savings ourselves, so that’s categorized as savings by others. Likewise we would have savings associated with changes in codes and standards so, for example, the building code increased a year and a half ago, January 2010, as far as new house construction goes so, again, energy savings associated with that, but not ones that we’re claiming specifically categorized again as savings by others. We’re working with the government to have future changes in codes and standards on the lighting side, on the heating equipment side of things, on windows that would reap savings in years to come.

 

A case, as you mentioned, where you or others have gone out and made savings on your own, haven’t really been involved with an Efficiency Nova Scotia program. We’re appreciative of that. Good on you, you have those savings. You have savings on your energy bill as a result of that, which is positive; it gives you a good return for the investment you’ve made, but it’s not a savings that we’re allowed to count.

 

MR. YOUNGER: I’m glad to hear that, and it is something that concerns me in making sure that auditing is correct, because I think it’s important to differentiate. We know that there are businesses who will make those decisions just on a business case. Just so you know, although I’ve had - in my own case, I’ve had my kilowatt hour usage drop and my bill has still gone up, but that has only a little bit to do with the Efficiency Nova Scotia charge. It also has to do with Nova Scotia Power’s continued rate increases of late.

 

When it comes to looking at your budget and the programs that you are going to run, two promises were made by the minister at the time this was introduced. One of them you can’t answer to, which is that he said the money that was delivering the electricity programs would cease to exist in his budget and there would be a savings. That hasn’t happened, but we’ll deal with that when we come to budget estimates. You can’t answer for the minister’s department, but his line-by-line estimates show that quite plainly in what’s been tabled.

 

One of the other promises he had was that Efficiency Nova Scotia would begin to take over the non-electricity programs based on a grant. You obviously can’t fund that through the electricity tax, but you were going to fund that through a grant that would be provided by, I assume, the Department of Energy, but from the government appropriations. Has that happened yet?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Yes, it has. We started taking over programs related to other fuels - fuel oil, natural gas, coal, wood, and propane - in January 2011, and that transition was complete by April 2011. As of April 2011 we were the one-stop shop for energy efficiency related to buildings and efficient products regardless of energy source. We’ve been doing that work related to other fuels under a contract with government.

 

MR. YOUNGER: What is the size of the appropriation that you’re receiving from government for - well, you don’t receive any for electricity, so for the non-electricity?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: It’s approximately $15 million a year.

 

MR. YOUNGER: Okay, and how does that compare to what you receive for electricity from the charge on electrical bills?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Our funding for electricity would be in the low $40 millions.

 

MR. YOUNGER: So are you able to deliver the - I’m not sure off the top of my head, I used to know this - what the percentage is of people that heat by fuel oil, and there are still some around using coke, but mostly fuel oil and wood and pellets and that sort of thing. Do you have any concept of what the percentage is of residents who are heating with non-electrical sources versus electrical sources?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: For space heating, the existing houses would be approximately 60 per cent with fuel oil and approximately 25 per cent with electricity.

 

MR. YOUNGER: That would suggest to me, and certainly correct me if I’m wrong, that the funding that is provided for efficiency programs in non-electrical space heating programs would be insufficient on a per capita base compared to electricity.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: I don’t think you can break it down just by existing houses. For example, with the funding we have on the electricity side, that would be targeted at existing houses, at new houses, at upgrading low-income housing from an energy efficiency standpoint. It would be targeted at small business and large employers. So it covers a spectrum, as well as non-profits and institutional facilities, that sort of thing. The provincial funding at this stage is very much targeted at housing, but “housing” broadly speaking, so single-family owned homes as well as new construction and apartments, that sort of thing. Government has made a choice to target its funding towards the residential sector as opposed to the commercial and industrial sector. So that's a difference between electricity funding, if you will, and government funding, why electricity funding is targeted more broadly.

 

I would make this point as well - everyone uses electricity, or essentially 99.9 per cent of the population. Even though you heat with fuel oil or propane or wood, you are still an electricity user so you still have an opportunity to participate in electricity programs, just not building envelope programs, if you will, if you are heating with another fuel.

 

MR. YOUNGER: I think that's the time . . .

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, your time is up.

 

Mr. Porter.

 

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thanks to the committee. It's good to have you here this morning, gentlemen, to answer a few questions. I'm going to bounce around a bit, but I have a few things.

 

I noticed, Mr. Crandlemire, in your opening comments - and you were good enough to provide us with a copy here - you talk about Efficiency Nova Scotia as an independent body of Nova Scotia Power and of government, and you go on to say that we are not a Crown Corporation or a provincial agency. All the money that you bring in, though, does not totally come from the surcharge on power bills - correct? Government does budget money for your department?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: That's correct. So we are a contractor to government for energy efficiency programs, not unlike other contractors to government for all kinds of other services.

 

MR. PORTER: So if I've looked at my numbers correctly, somewhere in the vicinity of $18 million is budgeted for Efficiency Nova Scotia from the government - is that correct?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Correct.

 

MR. PORTER: Where does that money go, that $18 million? You talk a bit about programs - and we'll get into that, on the $42 million side, and the budget that was presented - where does the $18 million get consumed?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: As I mentioned earlier, predominantly in the residential sector. So a big effort towards upgrading low-income residences, be it apartments or single-family homes, and a significant effort as well in the residential sector generally, outside of low incomes. So everything from small upgrades - it could be as simple as changing out the lighting or wrapping a hot water tank, hot water pipes, low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, that sort of thing on the low end of the spectrum, as far as upgrades go, to doing major building envelope work where it is blowing insulation into an attic or into walls or insulating basements, for example - new housing as well.

 

The province funds a program called PerformancePlus, where there are incentives for building to a higher energy efficiency standard than the code would require - so we're talking here about building to EnerGuide 83, 85, 86, 87, that sort of thing, whereas the code would require building to EnerGuide 80, which would be the equivalent of the R-2000 standard over the last couple of decades. That's where the major provincial funding would be going.

 

MR. PORTER: So the budget for your department is more like $60 million, not $42 million or so - is that correct?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Yes. Efficiency Nova Scotia, even though we've only been in business since October 2010, roughly a year and a half, we're running a $60 million operation these days between the electricity funding of roughly $42 million, $43 million - mid-40s - over the next two or three years, as proposed, and then provincial funding that is of the order of $15 million to $20 million.

 

MR. PORTER: Conserve Nova Scotia was the former body that did something very similar to what you are doing. How is it different today, and what was the cost to set up this new entity called Efficiency Nova Scotia?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: How is it different? Number one, we are an independent organization - we are overseen by a board of directors; and secondly, although we are a non-profit, effectively we're a private business as such. In terms of the cost of setting it up, of the order of $2 million.

 

MR. PORTER: So your private business, as such, who set that private business up?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Government did through legislation, so when there was a decision made to have an independent administrator for energy efficiency, who would that be? So Nova Scotians made the choices, as I mentioned in my opening comments, didn’t want Nova Scotia Power doing it and felt that there was a conflict of interest there in that their business was selling electricity, not helping people save electricity, if you will. Likewise, there was a concern about government managing energy efficiency so who then if it wasn’t to be Nova Scotia Power or if it wasn’t to be government and a recognition that there wasn’t any company, any organization available in Nova Scotia at the time to step in and fill that requirement. So government, through legislation, created Efficiency Nova Scotia.

 

Government appointed the initial board of directors. They only appointed four board members by design even though the legislation allowed for 10 and left it up to the board then to have an open process around acquiring additional board members, which the board has done. So that’s the way we operate today, why my senior staff and my employees report directly to a board of directors and, of course, the URB has oversight of the organization and our electricity programs. It doesn’t oversee our programs for fuel, oil and wood, other fuels. The government would have that oversight through its contractual arrangement with us. So they would have a contract officer who oversees the work we’re doing on that side, not unlike other situations with government contracts.

 

MR. PORTER: So just a point of clarity - and I thank you for that in-depth explanation - I just wanted a point of clarity on $2 million to set it up, fine, that was government money that set that up, taxpayer money. Who pays your salary today?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: A correction on that, no, that was not government money. We used ratepayers’ money for setting up the majority of that funding. My recollection is the split was just over $2 million of electricity ratepayers’ funds and roughly $200,000 of provincial funding, as such, to get it started.

 

MR. PORTER: And the government contributes annually, I’m going to assume, I see $18 million on the budget this year and they would have contributed each year, and will continue to I assume, to this program called Efficiency Nova Scotia?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: They contribute their share of the costs for our management of programs as such. Any expenditure is tied to the management of programs. Efficiency Nova Scotia doesn’t get funding from either electricity ratepayers or from the province to just be there, if you will. Effectively, our costs are covered by the programs we deliver. If we’re not in the business of delivering energy efficient programs, there’s no funding available.

MR. PORTER: Right. So the flow-through of money coming in the door, that’s part of the program, of the surcharge, et cetera, is all part of what makes the programs work, it covers salaries and so on and so forth?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Correct.

 

MR. PORTER: It takes care of the entire program?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Yes.

 

MR. PORTER: Okay, well, it is interesting. Nova Scotia Power is not - you’ve said - not the best model to manage such a program. I see they would have not much by way of vested interest in saving people money given that they’re charging, at the same time, setting a rate, well, not setting a rate, taking the rate that the URB is giving them. Anyway, I want to get on to something a little different here and before I do that, I just want to ask one further question about the actual body itself. Conserve Nova Scotia had how many employees and how many do you have today in Efficiency Nova Scotia?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Conserve Nova Scotia at its peak would have had 15 or 16 employees. Efficiency Nova Scotia today would have roughly 65 employees. Nova Scotia Power, when it was managing electricity programs, would have had approximately 30 toward the end, but as Efficiency Nova Scotia took over from Nova Scotia Power, the program size doubled, so immediately - effective on day one - the program activity was expanding from $20 million to $40 million. So that’s the explanation for the growth in staff, is that there has been huge ramp-up in terms of the activity on the electricity side.

 

Just by way of comparison, Efficiency Vermont, which has been in business for about 15 years and would have had savings in 2011 comparable to Efficiency Nova Scotia, has about 200 employees. In contrast to Efficiency Vermont, Oregon Trust, which has been in business for about a decade, would have a staff complement comparable to Efficiency Nova Scotia - so quite a different contrast in models, if you will, between those two.

 

I mention those two specifically because Efficiency Nova Scotia was patterned after those two organizations, which are both independent administrators of energy efficiency. The Efficiency Vermont model is focused around doing almost everything in-house. The Oregon Trust model - Energy Trust of Oregon is the full name - very much operates in a similar vein to Efficiency Nova Scotia, where almost all of the work is contracted out. Yes, we have 65 employees, as such, managing programs, but the boots on the ground would be electricians in Yarmouth or Glace Bay - plumbers, construction people, insulators, energy auditors spread throughout the province.

 

MR. PORTER: Are those all part of your people, or are those independents you’re talking about?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: No, those are all independent players that we would contract with, rather than employees of ours directly.

 

MR. PORTER: Okay, I just wanted to clarify that. It sounded for a second there like you had these - and I understood it as contracted and sub-contracted, et cetera.

 

There are a whole variety of programs. You supplied us with information. It talks about a lot of good programs. You mentioned a couple from Windsor, as a matter of fact, at Carl Trider’s shop there, and that’s all good. You look at a business like that - some businesses can afford to invest; some can’t. We know what things have been like over the last couple of years. It has been pretty tough going for both individual families and - it doesn’t matter who - large business, small business across the province. Great programs.

 

One of the things, though, I find interesting about the program - you’re collecting the ratepayers’ money, and effectively you’re giving it back in programs. That is sort of how I see this. Efficiency is good; there is no question that is the only way - reduction, efficiency. I know that I chase a house full of girls around every day and there are TVs going, lights left on, and I’ve almost got them broken - not quite. They’ll leave a light on, and I’ll say, Jayma, come here, and she’ll now know exactly why I’m bringing her back. I’ll just point: the light is on, turn it off. There’s a reason for that. So you’re trying to instill this in our kids, and I’m just one parent doing that. I’m sure - or at least I hope - there are a lot more. How are we getting that message out? I know you see advertisements. I know people are maybe watching a hockey game and there might be an ad on. I don’t know where you’re doing that or how you’re doing that, but I’m curious. How are we getting that message out, and what is that costing us?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: I don’t think we’re leaving out any avenue for getting that message out, starting with schoolchildren. We have a Green Schools program where we’re trying to educate students, as well as working with the teachers, the administrators of that school, even the janitorial staff, so that throughout that school there is a focus on energy efficiency and sustainability. The mechanism there is comparable to how solid waste management is rolled out to the province. Get to the young children and have the children make those changes in behaviour and bug their parents when they get home, Dad you shouldn’t be leaving that TV on, or you shouldn’t be leaving these lights on, that sort of thing. Hopefully with that sector we’re making a life change for those younger people.

 

For homeowners, for people in apartments, targeting not only the apartment building owners, but people in the apartments themselves, likewise in the residential sector, it’s everything from encouraging people to get rid of that beer fridge in the basement, it’s costing you $200 a year to keep your beer cold - more beer if you save that $200 - to changing out lighting or making the bigger changes like insulating the basement, turning down the thermostat, blowing insulation into your attic or your walls, likewise for businesses and for large employers.

 

Literally we’ve worked with everyone from the smallest business where we’re just going into a one-room office and changing out a couple of incandescent lights for CFLs to where we’re sending electricians in to change out the four-foot tube lighting, there are electrical changes there so you have to be a licensed electrician to do that kind of work. By the way, you mentioned that lots of potential clients might be challenged from the point of view of having access to capital to make those changes. We recognize that there are hard to reach sectors in Nova Scotia, whether that’s low-income families, small businesses, so we do a lot of work at no cost to the customer for those two sectors.

 

MR. PORTER: I’m down to less than four minutes; it’s funny how quickly 20 minutes goes by. I appreciate the answer very much. With the few minutes I have left, you were going there anyway, my next question was around - with each program there’s a piece that we need to put in, that the ratepayer needs to - if they have a portion - you used some examples of, if a single-family household spends $5,000. My first question would be around - where is a single-family household today going to find $5,000 extra to put forward even though it makes good sense, even though there’s a long-term saving down the road? Where are they going to get that? You touched on it a bit about some free stuff, for lack of a better term. In my last couple of minutes, can you tell me about if I don’t have the money, how do I still get the program because I believe in it and it’s a good thing?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: If you qualify as low income, the work comes at no charge.

 

MR. PORTER: What’s low income? Can you throw that in there for me? I didn’t mean to interrupt, but it’s important.

 

MR. FAULKNER: It’s based - we don’t make that determination ourselves, we base it on the low-income cut-off thresholds. I think we’ve simplified that somewhat. I believe for a family of four - I may need to get back to you to confirm - but I think it’s in the range of $50,000 total household income.

 

MR. PORTER: Okay, thanks.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: For small businesses, similarly, no charge to the customer, but even for businesses that have some size to them, there are loan programs available and we’re looking to put a loan program in place for the residential sector as well so that access to capital wouldn’t be a barrier to their moving forward with, for example, a $5,000 upgrade, something of that sort. We recognize that it isn’t every household that has $5,000 or $10,000 at the ready to move forward with energy efficiency upgrades.

 

At the same time, some of those houses would have the best opportunity for energy efficiency upgrades. In lots of cases, families would be most in need of saving that tank of oil or saving a few hundred dollars on their electricity bills.

 

MR. PORTER: Yes, they would.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: It’s just a way of targeting people who aren’t able to move forward on their own steam.

 

MR. PORTER: Mr. Faulkner, to your point, $50,000. I would like, at some point, if you could provide that information back. I haven’t seen a threshold yet for a low income that reached $50,000. I know in my area - and I know it does change depending on certain areas in the province - I don’t know why that would matter, but it does, unfortunately, but it’s usually in the 20s, if it’s that high, and sometimes it’s even lower for what we consider low income. There are a lot of people right on that brink that don’t make it. That has always been an issue that I’ve had. It shouldn’t matter, I'm still paying my light bill regardless of what I have as an income. As long as I'm a ratepayer, I should probably qualify at a reasonable level for something. There's always work that can be done to expand that and to make that a better program - as far as how to get the money, how to make the efficiency work.

 

I know I'm running out of time, so there are more questions that Allan will have after, in the next round. Thanks very much, there is a lot of important information there, and I look forward to seeing some more of these programs, getting some more information. There are a lot of people who come into my office, as you can well imagine, who are on the lower-income side in rural Nova Scotia, and all income levels for that matter who are looking to do things with efficiency, so we look forward to whatever other information may come out on that. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Ramey.

 

MR. GARY RAMEY: Thanks, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, gentlemen, for coming.

 

My first question - and I have to share some of my time here with my colleagues - is about the Appliance Retirement Program. I was wondering if you could tell me just a little bit about that and what the uptake has been on it?

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Faulkner.

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes, the Appliance Retirement Program is really aimed at those homeowners who may have more than one operating refrigerator or freezer, or dehumidifier or air conditioner in their home. As Mr. Crandlemire mentioned earlier, there are quite a few people who, when they buy a new fridge, they often don't get rid of the old one, they just move it to another part of the home and it becomes a bit of a spare. What folks may not realize is that that fridge costs them a lot of money operate every year - if your fridge is over 10 years old, it probably costs you in the range of at least $200 a year to operate. So this was recognized as an opportunity for Efficiency Nova Scotia. The program is called Appliance Retirement and we offer customers - we'll pay them $35 and we will send a truck out with able-bodied people to remove that appliance from the home. It is taken from the home.

A good news story about this program actually is that this year the contractor who is doing the work for us has established a new recycling centre in Burnside and employs, I think, 10 people. It is the first appliance recycling centre in Atlantic Canada, so more job creation there and a good news story. I think the volume of appliances we retire is in the range of 8,000 per year.

 

MR. RAMEY: Which appliances qualify?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Freezers, refrigerators, air conditioners, dehumidifiers, if they are in use and operating.

 

MR. RAMEY: So the uptake has been quite good on this program.

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes, nominally about 8,000 units a year.

 

MR. RAMEY: Okay. The second question I have is regarding - I think it's something Mr. Crandlemire referred to in his opening remarks - you said you did, or Corporate Research did a survey of people who were using the services of Efficiency Nova Scotia. It is my understanding - I think there were about 800 people who were surveyed, or thereabouts, which is a reasonable sample, and I think you said that the approval rating might have been higher than you get from your family, or something like that. (Laughter) Can you tell me a little more about the survey, the kind of questions and that sort of thing that were on the survey, and a little more about the feedback?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Certainly, I'd be glad to. We had CRA survey roughly 550 residential clients of ours - almost 350 businesses - so all participants in programs, and just overwhelming support for programs, good feedback in terms of their interaction, not only with Efficiency Nova Scotia but with our contractors. A huge percentage reported that they would recommend Efficiency Nova Scotia to their colleagues or friends, that sort of thing, or participate in future programs.

 

So really what it identified for us is how do we spread the word and get more people engaged, because there's huge enthusiasm for anyone who is participating in programs. I get the same feedback wherever I go, so it doesn't matter whether I'm walking into a Home Hardware store that has changed out its lighting, or talking to a homeowner - I’ve had several MLAs or colleagues even, comment about rating work they’ve done on their house and how much energy they are saving and how much more comfortable their house is. Getting exactly the same feedback from Nova Scotians, broadly speaking, in that regard but certainly it flags for us, how do we get that message out so that people who haven’t engaged at this stage, haven’t participated in programs, knock on our door, call our 1-800 number, participate and then they can be ambassadors for our programs just like the thousands that are already engaged?

 

MR. RAMEY: Actually something you said there piqued my interest and I’ll have to ask this on behalf of people who maybe didn’t get the energy audit at the beginning or whatever. If somebody were renovating a home, let’s say, and they were radically increasing the energy efficiency by appropriate spray-in insulation or something, because it was an older home and you want to get in to all the crevices and in-floor heating and all the rest of it, and they were in the midst of this renovation but they hadn’t had the energy audit to begin with, would they qualify for any of the programs or did they miss the boat because they weren’t paying attention at the beginning?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: If they’re at the point where they’re still tearing apart rather than putting back together, it’s not too late, I think it’s fair to say that. Certainly if they’re at the point where they’re already doing upgrades, so let’s suppose they’ve already insulated their walls or they’ve already put in new windows, they’ve missed the opportunity at that stage in terms of accessing incentives.

 

That’s unfortunate and I can appreciate that potential clients would be upset by that or would be disappointed that they’ve missed out on incentives but here’s the reality that Efficiency Nova Scotia is working with. We’re dealing with public funds one way or the other, so it doesn’t matter whether it’s funds that are coming from government to encourage efficiency improvements or whether it’s funds that are coming from electricity ratepayers. We have to get a bang for that buck, as such. We’ve got to get energy savings from every investment we make.

 

We’re not a cash machine, we’re not a bank machine as such. We’re in the business of buying energy savings and the way we do that is by, like in the situation you mentioned, having an audit of the home before any of the renovations start and then having a second audit when the renovations are complete. Here are the upgrades that have been made. Here are the energy savings associated with that. Here’s the incentive that we can provide for doing those kinds of upgrades.

 

The advantage of having that audit up front is it can identify opportunities that a homeowner wouldn’t even have thought of. Certainly if they’ve gone out to the bank and arranged financing for some significant upgrades, why they may consider investing an extra thousand or two to do additional upgrades at the same time that are going to save them money on every energy bill they’ll have afterwards and generally that’s a very good investment. The extra financing they would pay on $1,000 or $2,000 is going to be small dollars compared to savings on that fuel oil bill or that electricity bill that comes year after year after year on a go forward basis.

 

MR. RAMEY: I do appreciate that. The reason I asked the question is simply because I think you mentioned in your remarks or maybe in the answer to one of the questions, you want to get the word out and one of the side effects of getting the word out is catching people after they have already started the process and then having them contact you and ask you that very question so I feel that this is probably another way to get the word out on how the process works.

 

I’m getting eyeballed by the member for Queens, who I know wants to ask some questions too, so with the permission of the chairman I will turn it over to my colleague from Queens.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Ms. Conrad.

 

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Thank you very much for your presentation. It’s just really good news that customers are getting the word about the importance of energy efficiency. Besides getting information to customers through trade shows that you attend with all the great information and government and MLA offices, how else are customers hearing about the energy efficiency programs?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: It covers everything from advertising in newspapers or on the radio to social media. We have a Facebook following.

 

MS. CONRAD: Oh, really?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: We’re on Twitter these days. In fact, I think Efficiency Nova Scotia has one of the largest followings - like it’s top three or four or five in the province, in the social media realm - but certainly with programs, for example, that are targeting refrigerator retrieval, things of that sort, why, there have been specific programs, specific advertising programs to promote those.

 

We’re out meeting with chambers of commerce around the province. We’re working with trade associations - for example, the Homebuilders’ Association and things of that sort. To go back to Mr. Ramey’s question of a moment ago, we have or try to have information in all of the building permit offices and have the building permit people, the building inspector people, aware of our programs so that they get a chance to catch people when there’s new construction underway or major renovations, that sort of thing. We have information out to MLAs’ offices. So really, we’re trying to leave no stone unturned in terms of getting the word out.

 

MS. CONRAD: Well, it certainly sounds like it if you’ve created a Facebook page and you have lots of friends. I’ll have to add to you as a friend.

 

In an op-ed back in February, you highlighted some of the steps to be taken in the ENS 2013-15 plan. One of the steps you highlighted is more of a focus on serving customers through a one-window shop or service approach. Could you elaborate on what that would look like for customers?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: That was one of the key reasons that the province chose to use Efficiency Nova Scotia for managing all of its programs. We were set up specifically to manage the electricity efficiency programs, but the province recognized that there are going to be lots of situations where homeowners or businesses are using electricity as well as another fuel, like fuel oil. They don’t want to knock on one door to deal with the electricity piece and then have to knock on a second door for dealing with upgrades that would save fuel oil or wood. Certainly the last thing that any potential client is going to want is to call one number and be shuffled off to a second number and then to a third number to have their needs addressed. So that was really the motivation for having Efficiency Nova Scotia cover all the bases as far as energy efficiency goes - one phone call answered by a real person, returned within hours if there’s a backlog on those lines, and information that’s readily accessible around federal programs, and programs whether they’re funded for electricity or other fuels.

 

MS. CONRAD: Okay, so I’m a new customer, I’m picking up the phone. I have not heard about any of the programs, I’m not sure what an energy audit is. Would you walk me through what I would be looking at in terms of an energy audit, if it was decided through that initial phone conversation that an energy audit would indeed need to be the first step in my forward plan for energy efficiency? So I’m new, I’m coming in, and now you’re going to come in and do an energy audit.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: And I’ll refer your question to Chuck Faulkner, because he’s the director of programs.

 

MS. CONRAD: Okay, so Chuck is going to come in and do the energy audit.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: He’s hands-on when it comes to that situation.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Faulkner.

 

MR. FAULKNER: The audit process is somewhat standardized. The auditors are certified by Natural Resources Canada as certified energy auditors. They go through a structured process that has been well defined over a number of years of running programs like this across the country.

 

They look at a number of things, of course. They look at the type of lighting and appliances and other things you may have in your home, but they also look at things like how much air leakages are in your home. They can do what they call blower door tests. They seal off things like the exhaust outlets, et cetera, and then they actually put a fan over the door opening and blow air into the house or pull air out, to actually measure the air movement through the envelope of the home.

 

Of course they inspect the insulation levels and they look for a number of very common sources of air leakage or heat loss. Then they model that home using standardized software, for which the industry term is Hot2000. The model produces a list of recommended measures and identifies, approximately, what they can save from that home.

 

Then, by working with us, the auditor can identify what rebates are available for those measures. It is more like a shopping list for customers where they can look down that list and decide which pieces they'd like to implement themselves. Following that work, after it is completed, the auditors come back and again test the home and inspect the work that was done and give the home a new rating. The rebates we pay are based on the difference in that rating.

 

Just to expand a bit on Mr. Crandlemire's point and your question about customer focus, part of our work now is to bring all of our services into one pool, so when a customer calls us and they may say I'd like to have an audit, I always make this analogy. If my car is broken down, I go to the service station. I don't say, I'd like to enroll in your spark plug program; I say, my car is broken down, you fix cars, I'd like your help. We like to be seen by customers as the ones who fix the efficiency or the energy-use problems in people's homes.

 

We'd like to make sure they have access to all the programs we offer so that auditor would not only look at the obvious building envelope things but if you've got that second fridge that shouldn't be used, then we can coordinate removal of that. If you are using different light bulbs, we'll certainly let them know, either install the lamps or let them know that there are rebates available. We try to cover the full spectrum and make sure that the customer gets access to everything through that one point of contact.

 

MS. CONRAD: Is there a cost for a customer to have an audit done?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes, the cost is close to $500 but the cost is subsidized by us and formerly by Natural Resources Canada, but the cost to the homeowner is $150 plus GST. We periodically offer promotions through Web sites like TeamBuy where the customer can actually get those at about a $40 cost. We sold 1,300 audits that way last year. It has been very popular.

 

MS. CONRAD: Okay, that sounds great. So would the auditor also be able to do somewhat of a cost analysis for the customer as well, pointing out to the customer what savings over the long term could be had if the customer invested in those energy efficiency upgrades?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes, the report is quite comprehensive. It's produced by the software but it does give them an approximate estimate of what they could save. You have to make certain assumptions in these modelling software systems, of course, but it certainly puts them in the ballpark.

 

MS. CONRAD: So I'm assuming an audit for a business would be similar to a home audit, for a homeowner.

 

MR. FAULKNER: Well the business audits are somewhat different in that, of course, businesses are more diverse in their energy use and more complex. In one of our programs we do a full lighting and systems audit for that customer. We call it Small Business Energy Solutions and we use our own software for that. The contractors are trained and they provide the customer with an estimate of the savings, which is based on the variations and wattages, et cetera, of the lighting. Then the costs are actually firm costs because that contractor can then proceed to install it.

 

For larger businesses, big industries, et cetera, we always support the customer by assisting with the cost of consulting studies because those businesses require a lot of specialization. So normally we work with the customer to identify where the expertise is that knows their business and how to save energy there. We would sponsor them more in terms of subsidizing the audit, as opposed to providing the audit service.

MS. CONRAD: Right, okay. So the homeowner who is a customer and the business owner who is a customer as well, they have now found that they can reap the benefits of energy efficiency through upgrades. Now there are lots of programs that are offered. Could you just tell me a little bit about some of those programs? I know they have been highlighted but there are lots of programs out there and incentives and rebates. Could you just expand on some of those programs?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Certainly, and you do raise a good point. Generally when there are a lot of programs, it can be difficult for customers to know which one is for me, how do I participate, that sort of thing. That is why we pride ourselves on having our program advisors who answer that call, and they can walk the customer through it.

 

If we go through the spectrum of customer sizes, if we start with the really small - it could be, say, the mom-and-pop pizza shop or the dental office or things like that - we can send people in to replace their incandescent screw-in lighting with compact fluorescent lamps and replace their incandescent exit-sign lighting with LED equivalents free of charge. Honestly, the customer calls us or we’ll call them and those crews will show up and do that work.

 

For the more comprehensive retrofits, which are commonly lighting in small businesses, we offer a full turn-key package where - as I described before - we do the audit, we do the retrofit. We recycle the lamps through that program as well. Last year we recycled 170 kilometres of fluorescent tubes.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Ms. Conrad’s time has expired. Mr. Younger.

 

MR. YOUNGER: Thank you. How much time do we have in this round?

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Sixteen minutes.

 

MR. YOUNGER: Sixteen minutes. That’s math. There are a couple of issues I wanted to cover. On that survey, I don’t doubt that people like the programs. That doesn’t surprise me in the slightest, and I think that’s good. I assume you didn’t ask how they felt about paying the surcharge on their electrical bills.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: No.

MR. YOUNGER: I’m not thinking you did, but . . .

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: But we have done surveys on that as well.

 

MR. YOUNGER: What is the response?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: We have some work to do on that side, but having said that, it is surprising how many Nova Scotians aren’t even aware that there is a charge on their electricity.

 

MR. YOUNGER: Oh, I know. I don’t disagree with you. I’ve spoken to a number of people at Nova Scotia Power and a number of people at your own office who - they first call Nova Scotia Power - which isn’t surprising because it comes on their bill - and ask, what the heck is this charge? I think they probably get referred to your office and I think that’s a surprise for many. I have no doubt people like the programs.

 

I want to ask about something with those programs. When we spoke last year, you had been talking about this challenge with apartments and rentals, and so when you have an appliance, the problem is that the landlord owns the appliance, but the tenant probably pays the electric bill. Have you addressed that problem around renters?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: We ran two or three different pilots over the last few months - so this is in the last half of 2011 - trying to target that particular group. Prior to Efficiency Nova Scotia being in the business of energy efficiency, that is one sector that hadn’t had access to programs - an issue for us from the point of view of everybody is paying a DSM rate rider as such, including people in apartments. Obviously they need to have access to programs if they’re contributing funds toward overall programs. We’ve targeted upgrades in low-income apartments, worked with the Department of Community Services and through their fleet of units, if you will. We also worked with some building owners and building administrators to get into other apartment buildings. My recollection is that we upgraded energy efficiency in about 2,000 units that weren’t categorized as low income. Certainly that pilot has gone well. We’re looking to do even more of those this year and in years to come.

 

MR. YOUNGER: You’re right that the apartments are extremely important, because predominantly - although certainly not all - if you look at the demographics, a higher percentage of your low-income earners will be in apartments, and a higher percentage of seniors too. A lot of seniors, I notice especially - I assume this is a trend across the province, but certainly in metro - are selling homes and moving into rental apartments with the equity.

 

Just a clarification, when you mentioned the Department of Community Services, are you referring to properties owned by the Department of Community Services or just properties where their clients would be in private units?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Certainly, properties managed by the Department of Community Services, I would assume, predominantly . . .

 

MR. YOUNGER: Why would the government not pay for their own energy upgrades in buildings they own? Listen, I think it’s important to do those energy efficiency upgrades. I’m concerned that we would use Efficiency Nova Scotia’s limited resources to provide a subsidy to a government department.

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: There are opportunities in public buildings just the same as there is anywhere else in Nova Scotia, opportunities to save energy in schools, in hospitals and in community centres.

 

MR. YOUNGER: Sure there is but you have a limited budget and I would rather see - my argument is that Community Services can afford to fund their own energy upgrades, and should be doing it, don’t get me wrong, they absolutely should be, that’s not really what I’m debating. Community Services should be funding, out of their own budget, the energy upgrades in their buildings because it results in a net savings to their bottom line plus providing better service to their clients. If you had an unlimited budget, great, but you don’t, right?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Efficiency Nova Scotia doesn’t make the decisions around which pocket the funding comes out of for upgrading energy efficiency but certainly we see ourselves as being in the business of encouraging energy efficiency wherever those opportunities exist and if that’s in a fire hall, or in a community college, or a hospital, or a school, or a Community Services building, we don’t exclude any of those players. Every one of them are paying electricity bills so we’re looking for the saved kilowatt hours in those kinds of establishments just the same as any of the other businesses we’ve talked about earlier.

 

MR. YOUNGER: That’s a very good political answer. When you pull lighting out of these buildings, commercial, residential - most of them would be commercial - it would be the large numbers. Nova Scotia does not currently have a legislated or mandated disposal plan for CFLs or any of these old lights, most of which contain mercury. It has been identified as a significant watershed issue. It’s been identified by most municipal units running solid waste facilities as a real problem. I know that there is one private business that is operating a recycling system for mercury-containing bulbs and they ship to Ontario, is basically what they do. How do you handle the disposal of lighting fixtures and such, which contain mercury that you are pulling out?

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Faulkner.

 

MR. FAULKNER: As I mentioned earlier, when we retrofit florescent tube lightening, we do remove the lamps and recycle them fully. Those are actually shipped to Quebec - that is for the florescent tubes. It’s interesting that, I know folks are conscious of the mercury in compact florescent lamps, but it’s really no more highly concentrated than it would be in florescent tubes, which we’ve all had above our heads in hospitals and schools for 50 or 60 years now.

 

Granted, there is no formal program in the province for recycling of florescent lamps or tubes. We do sponsor that program for the larger florescent tube retrofits but right now there isn’t a full mechanism in place for compact fluorescents. We would certainly support that if it were to move forward. It’s out of our jurisdiction but we’re certainly supportive of those kinds of initiatives.

 

MR. YOUNGER: I agree with you that the mercury has always been there in those bulbs and I don’t dispute it, and it’s a tiny amount per bulb, there’s no question, I think it’s like a drop. I don’t know what size it is but it’s a tiny amount. I think the issue is the accumulation of the mercury, because it’s a bioaccumulative substance, in landfills and it builds up, it doesn’t degrade. So what happens in the landfills is it builds up in increasing concentrations because you have one light bulb, that’s fine.

 

Most of the Nova Scotia landfills have a really bizarre policy where you can bring a certain number, I think it’s like 10 florescent tubes, but you can bring 10 florescent tubes on every truck all day so it doesn’t actually solve that problem. It is something, I realize, that you don’t have direct responsibility for but it is something that I would love to see the agency, at least, be in discussions with government on because I think that it’s a problem that has got to be solved. A number of other provinces - the reason Quebec has that industry is because its legislated. Alberta has legislated it, and there are a number of other places. If it's legislated, then the infrastructure will be created here to more properly deal with those.

 

I think what you have is a situation where I'm glad that you are mandating that those be recycled where you take them out, but when you've provided the rebates of $1or $2 or whatever it was, on compact fluorescents for individuals, I'm fairly certain, I think I'm reasonably safe in saying that when those bulbs go or they break, that they're going in the garbage bag. It's not really where we want them to be going - I think you probably agree with me on that?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Yes, we would agree that ultimately there needs to be a disposal mechanism, a recycling mechanism for CFLs, as well as for foot tubes. I think you would have noticed, Mr. Younger, within the last month or two that a company - I think they are situated in Burnside and actually have been involved with our recycling of our foot tubes in the past - have bought equipment that ultimately can be used for recycling CFLs, as well as fluorescent tubes, and recovering that mercury, if you will. We are looking forward to when they are up and operational. My understanding is that there will be a national effort around recycling of CFLs in the coming year or so, so government is getting to that issue of dealing with that material.

 

MR. YOUNGER: I agree and I'm very familiar with the Burnside business. The challenge is obviously more for - if I'm doing an entire building there's a practicality issue for individual tubes. I think you're probably a little bit more optimistic than I am in terms of it coming within the next year on a federal level - and maybe, well, you might be right. They've been saying that for a number of years now, and that's why a number of provinces have moved on their own to do that. I think the current government in Ottawa probably is less inclined than perhaps previous governments have been on that front.

 

Speaking of federal programs, I think we're all fairly well aware that the federal Conservatives cancelled the EcoEfficiency or EnerGuide – what’s (Interruption) It's EnerGuide. Thank you, everything has this fancy name. They cancelled that EnerGuide Program and I'm wondering what pressure, if any, has that put on programs that you offer?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes, and the program has been, as I'm sure you know, on-again, off-again, over the last year or two. It did create some challenges for us going into this year because the federal program did offer some quite substantial incentives.

 

What we've done in recognition of that is kind of a twofold effort. Number one is just getting the word out, because the last time this happened folks read the headlines and assumed that meant the program was gone completely, while we were still in business. So we've tried to get ahead of that as well as we can. The second thing is that we are looking at a change to the rebate structure, so in some cases we are increasing rebates, we're streamlining the process. As Mr. Crandlemire mentioned, we are working on a financing program to complement the overall service of it.

 

So it will be challenging for the program, but we're stepping up to make some changes that will be positive overall. For one thing, just simplifying the delivery process, because when Natural Resources Canada is out of the process it will somewhat streamline it for us. So some pluses and minuses there, but we are dealing with those challenges head-on, as are a lot of other jurisdictions in Canada.

 

MR. YOUNGER: Can you tell me what your most, and least, successful programs are that you've offered in the past year?

 

MR. FAULKNER: On the residential side, probably our most successful program last year was our low-income households program. Thanks to a lot of co-operation from the province, we've had tremendous success in that program in the last year - thousands of homes upgraded, anywhere from simple lighting upgrades right through to envelope upgrades. A really tremendous response - we're really happy with that.

 

On the business side our most successful program has likely been our Small Business Energy Solutions, where we do the full lighting retrofits. The challenging programs for us have probably been, if I refer back to the EnerGuide Program that we just discussed, because of the on-again, off-again nature of the federal program, it has been volatile. So the program performed well, but came in just about 6 per cent below the target we had set for it.

 

On the business side, the most challenging program we had last year, we call it prescriptive rebates, and it is offering rebates on efficient equipment through distributors and vendors of products. We’ve talked a lot to other jurisdictions like Vermont, Oregon, California, B.C., and they tell us that it’s just a steady slow climb for programs like that. You have to work hands on with each of the distributors, train their staff, get them, so that program missed targeted by about 50 per cent last year but it’s already producing savings at the rate we require this year. So a lot of the efforts we put into it over the last year are starting to bear fruit. A lot of these things, sometimes it just takes time to get the word out and to get people aware of it. Over time they continue to grow, and that’s what we’re seeing there.

 

MR. YOUNGER: My colleagues had asked a couple of questions and you had mentioned in response that you were looking at getting into loan programs. Does the legislation that governs Efficiency Nova Scotia currently provide the ability for Efficiency Nova Scotia to get into the provision of loans?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: We won’t be offering the loans directly ourselves, we’ll be partnering with a financial institution that’s already in the business of issuing loans but it will be in conjunction with our energy efficiency programs. So effectively, we do the audit work, for example, and then an individual will be qualified for a loan. They’ll be able to access that loan online, as such, without ever walking through a financial institution.

 

MR. YOUNGER: Would you guarantee that loan?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: No, we won’t guarantee the loan but we will be looking at potentially buying down the interest rate, for example, that sort of thing. The financial institution will be taking the risk as far as the loan itself goes.

 

MR. YOUNGER: Somebody would still have to meet the normal requirements for whatever the size of the loan is?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Yes.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Your time has expired, Mr. Younger. Mr. MacMaster.

 

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Chairman, my first question - I had a look on your Web site in your annual report about the planned expenditures and electricity savings and I thought it was nice to see that there are some low-income households in the province because those are the people who are most affected by increases in energy costs because they’re on fixed incomes. Somebody who’s very wealthy, their power bill is their power bill and it’s not a large per cent of their income but for somebody who is low income, it is. So I just wanted to open by stating that it’s nice to see that we’re trying to help those people.

 

The question I have, in looking at this list I see it’s broken down between residential, commercial, industrial and other. Where are we getting the most bang for our buck with these incentives? If I were to look on the statement, it appears that under Institution, Commercial and Industrial, under Efficient Products, there’s an expenditure of $2.37 million for an electricity savings of 22.7 million kilowatt hours, which looks to be about a times 10 benefit. Is that where we’re getting the biggest bang for our buck?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes, your assessment is correct, there is a wide spectrum of - if you look at it, the cost of energy, the cost per kilowatt hour saved varies across programs. Usually as a general rule, we get the best bang for our buck, if you will, from the larger business programs because those customers just have orders of magnitude, more savings available, but having said that, we have to also look at maintaining some equitability, or equity if you will, and accessibility to all customer groups because they’re all paying for it. You have to somewhat balance the varying costs against the opportunities you need to address across the sector. So you do get varying ranges of results for the dollar you spend but we do have to make sure everybody has access to it.

 

MR. MACMASTER: Sure, sure. Have you considered any, maybe you’ve even had some initiatives designed around trying to focus where you’re getting - recognizing you have to keep the program available for everybody - but if the greatest savings is coming from a particular source, are you trying to focus resources on that to try to reduce more energy usage, getting the best bang for your buck?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes, and it’s one of the by-products of the accountability regime we operate under. We have mandated targets that we take very, very seriously and because we do operate as a pretty quick on our feet business, we’re always looking at where are we getting the best results for the money we’re spending and we make minor adjustments over the course of every year to address that. Some programs, you know, you try them and you find they don’t work as well as you expected, and you make changes or sometimes you cancel them completely; other programs are really outperforming your expectations, so you increase your efforts there, while still maintaining that equity that we need to address.

 

MR. MACMASTER: Is there anything specific that you’ve done in that regard to try to focus on, say, the large industrial users, to try to achieve greater energy savings there?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes, the example of large industrial is a good one because the first thing a lot of businesses think about is lighting, but when you get into large industry there are also other opportunities - one of the most prominent ones is compressed air systems.

 

Compressed air is the most expensive source of energy in most of these plants. It’s on the order of 15 times more expensive on per unit energy than electricity. Over the last few months we’ve actually been working on developing a new program just for compressed air systems. That’s one of numerous examples where we’ve identified a new opportunity and we’re going after it in a more targeted way.

 

MR. MACMASTER: That’s good. The energy reduction electricity savings was 82.5 - it says “million kilowatt hours” - would that be the same as megawatts?

 

MR. FAULKNER: That’s gigawatt hours. So that’s the energy consumed versus megawatts being the peak reduced from Nova Scotia Power’s load. I think that’s the 2010 number.

 

MR. MACMASTER: Yes, it is. I guess maybe the better way for me to ask the question - I think our usage each year in this province, at least when the paper mill was running in Point Tupper, was about 2,200 or 2,300 megawatts?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Peak demand, yes.

 

MR. MACMASTER: Peak demand. How much of that - let’s say it is 2,200 megawatts - how much reduction would we have achieved based on that number? Would we have come down a few megawatts, or . . .

 

MR. FAULKNER: I think, in 2011, it was in the range of 29 or 30 megawatts – so roughly 1 to 1.5 per cent.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: If I could just jump in there on an energy basis - the energy savings in 2010 would have been the equivalent of about 8,000 or 9,000 homes’ average usage in Nova Scotia; in 2011 the energy savings would be the equivalent of about 14,000 houses’ average usage. You just look at 2011 - 14,000 homes in Nova Scotia effectively taken off the grid. That’s a lot of electricity to save in one year. That’s a growth, as I said, from roughly 8,000 or 9,000 in the year previous. But that’s the track we’re on now, to save that kind of electricity in a year - and to put it in perspective that would be of the order of 1.2 per cent of Nova Scotia’s overall usage on electricity in 2011.

 

So we’re at the point where the savings we’re achieving, energy efficiency wise, are comparable to what would be normal outgrowth. So bending that curve to where you would have had just a steady increase in electricity usage year after year after year - from people buying more appliances, more reasons for using electricity, as well as more houses, bigger houses, that sort of thing - to where we’ve flattened that low growth. We’re at the point now where we’re turning it negative, where electricity usage in the province will actually be shrinking on a go-forward basis.

 

MR. MACMASTER: Okay, that’s good. We’re going to start to see the usage shrinking, although the cost is still rising.

 

I’m going to ask a question about that in a minute, but what percentage of the market have you been able to penetrate in terms of - and I guess the question would be: Is this a program that you see that’s going to go on infinitely or is there going to come a point in time where we will have targeted most of the homes in the province with this program?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Unfortunately, not in the foreseeable future. I would love to say that we’ll have businesses covered, residences covered, the full spectrum of activity, but we’ve only scratched the surface at this stage. I think most of us would recognize that the majority of businesses still haven’t done that upgrade work; the majority of residences and apartments still have opportunities.

 

Even where there has been huge engagement, are there still more things we can do? Absolutely, and there has never been a better time than now. I’m sure for everyone in this room, while you were driving here this morning you went by that gasoline sign - $1.42.5. What better reminder do we need than that, that energy prices are high and going higher? We need to put some emphasis on using energy better, on saving where we can, of keeping more money in our pockets, making businesses more productive. That’s what this is all about at the end of the day.

 

MR. MACMASTER: I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s great that we’re trying to do things to reduce energy usage, because I guess one of the concerns I have - if people are saving money, and we’ve talked already today, I think people who are paying power bills pay about, on average, $45 or $50 a year for the demand side charge that helps to fund these programs. Okay. So people are paying for it. The good thing is that they’re able to get some of that money back, maybe more than they’re paying in a lot of cases, which is good. So over time the idea is that they would save money going forward, every power bill they receive, which is good.

 

One of the things I’m concerned about is that people may not realize the savings because energy prices keep rising. I guess one could argue that if they’re reducing their usage, they’re paying less than they would have been paying - but there’s also another element that I’d like you to comment on.

 

We’re talking about reducing energy here. The government has the most aggressive renewable energy targets on the continent. The price of those renewable energy sources is often much higher. If we look at wind, we need only look at the numbers for the input costs - they’re about three times the price of coal; if we look at the Churchill Falls project, it appears – it has been batted around in the media - that it is about four times the price of coal, but we don’t really know because there has never been a cost analysis done. So people are reducing their usage with the idea, the understanding, that they’re going to save money, yet government energy policy is dictating that we use more expensive energy inputs. Could that really be responsible for taking away the savings that people are going to gain through these initiatives?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Energy efficiency doesn’t have any difficulty competing with any of the other energy supply sources that are out there. In today’s world I can get energy savings, as far as lighting goes, for the order of three or four cents per kilowatt hour. The fuel cost alone for generating that electricity is more than three or four cents, and certainly you would recognize that any of the renewable options, whether it’s wind generation, whether it’s tidal, whether it’s electricity from Lower Churchill, is going to cost a premium price to the electricity we have today.

 

In that world, we can’t compete. We’re the cheapest alternative. That’s the reason the URB put the emphasis on energy efficiency, going back to 2006, and looked at a series of options. There were going to need to be big investments made in the electricity system in Nova Scotia because it was so heavily reliant on fossil fuels. The conclusion of that process was we need to put more emphasis on energy efficiency to save customers money in the long run on their electricity bills. We need to put more emphasis on renewable; that’s the second least expensive option. And it’s not only avoiding greenhouse gases, it’s avoiding putting a scrubber, for example, on Lingan power plant - that would have been $170 million in its own right and customers would have had to pay for that.

 

As well, energy efficiency ultimately avoids building a brand new power plant that could cost as much as a billion dollars. Make no mistake, customers in Nova Scotia have to pay those costs at the end of the day, so far better off to be investing in energy efficiency now, avoiding some of those larger costs on a go-forward basis. That is what our business is all about.

 

MR. MACMASTER: I think it makes the program that you’re offering that much more important. If we’re going to be paying a premium going forward for renewable energy, we need to reduce our usage that much more.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: I couldn't agree more. I said earlier that that $1.42.5 sign is a reminder every day that we need to put more emphasis on energy efficiency, and lots of opportunity there for us to make more effective use of the energy we use now or will be using in days to come. It's going to cost more, so let's get the absolute most out of it, yes.

 

MR. MACMASTER: When we look at something like natural gas, that's a fossil fuel that not too long ago was trading around $14 per BTU. Now it's around $2, so it has declined significantly in price because there's a glut of it on the market.

 

If you look at a province like Alberta, if you look at the New England States, I understand 50 per cent of homes - maybe it is even upward of 80 per cent - are heated with natural gas, a much cheaper form of energy, and it is ironic that a lot of that gas is coming from here, from our offshore.

 

Do you think that using forms of energy like that, coupled with energy reduction initiatives like the ones that you are offering, would probably be the best combination for Nova Scotians to have?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Certainly where a customer has access to natural gas, whether it's a commercial building or a residence, gas would appear as a very attractive option today. The advantage that Nova Scotia’s natural gas customers have as well is that obviously they would have installed equipment only over the last few years - they didn't have access to natural gas until 2002 or so, so it would be high-efficiency equipment that is going into all those installations.

 

In other jurisdictions there have been major programs around changing out old equipment, putting in high-efficiency gas furnaces where they would have had medium-efficiency equipment previously, like the same opportunities that are available here today in Nova Scotia with oil-fired equipment. Certainly new oil-fired furnaces are significantly more efficient than equipment would have been, say, 10 or 15 or 20 years ago.

 

Whenever it comes up for replacement, my strong recommendation would be to buy the most efficient equipment you can get. It will probably have a premium cost of $200 or $300, say, on the price of a new furnace or boiler, but it is money well spent. It is going to pay dividends for you year after year, and to the extent that you have an opportunity to upgrade the efficiency of your home at the same time, I’d do that as well and then buy smaller equipment for your space heating requirements.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Mr. MacMaster's time has expired.

 

Mr. MacKinnon.

 

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Uptake is the key to success in your programs. Now Conserve Nova Scotia had programs and, of course, Efficiency Nova Scotia Corporation carried on many of those programs and expanded and so on - very quickly, perhaps, can you talk about a comparison in the increase in uptake?

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: So let me start with low income, why there has been growth in the upgrade of low-income houses for energy efficiency, say around the building envelope, so those would be relatively costly upgrades. They are upgrades that are paid 100 per cent by Efficiency Nova Scotia as opposed to relying on any contribution from the occupants of the home.

 

I mentioned earlier that the apartment program is brand new, so there hadn't been upgrade programs for anyone in apartments previously. That's something that is new. It is targeted at the mass market. I think we upgraded over 6,000 apartment units in 2011 and are looking to do even more in 2012 - a bigger effort than we've ever had before in Nova Scotia and targeting what is considered to be a hard-to-reach group, if you will.

 

Certainly with Conserve Nova Scotia, it didn’t focus on businesses, so a big effort by Efficiency Nova Scotia around the small business sector right through to the large businesses in the province. So it increased activity on that side and at the same time there isn’t any slackening off with what I would consider the traditional targets for energy efficiency, whether that’s encouraging efficiency improvements for new construction, new houses if you will, or whether it’s existing houses.

 

We talked earlier this morning about the new building code for new houses and we’ll be looking for a strengthening of the building code for commercial buildings in the next couple of years or so. There is a new building code that’s just out for discussion now, so expanding that, improvement in construction practices from single family homes to commercial office buildings, condominiums, apartment buildings, what have you - there’s no time like during new construction to build energy efficiency into the process.

 

So we’re working with government to make sure that happens for people who don’t determine what they build as such - they’re the occupants after the fact, but they have to live with what’s there. It’s important that we have processes in place that make sure they have energy efficient opportunities even if they don’t own the building themselves.

 

MR. MACKINNON: So there has been a very significant increase in the uptake in the programs since 2009, and new programs altogether. How many individual or separate programs are offered today, without listing them, just how many are you involved in?

 

MR. FAULKNER: It’s sometimes a little bit ambiguous because we have what we call components in programs, but we have, either in programs or components, distinct in components thereof, about 15.

 

MR. MACKINNON: Demand-side management is not unique to Nova Scotia, of course - looking at other jurisdictions, are there many differences in what’s being done in other provinces, and how do we compare?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: I think there’s a perception that this is Nova Scotia- specific, that we’re on our own so to speak or doing something that isn’t done elsewhere – that couldn’t be further from the truth. Certainly in the States there’s a big effort around energy efficiency - several leading States, and we mentioned a couple earlier this morning in terms of Vermont or Oregon, actually the specific Northwest generally would be very active on this side, but Massachusetts, Rhode Island, a number of States, and in Canada as well. So I would flag Quebec, Manitoba, and B.C. as provinces that have been relatively aggressive on the energy efficiency side. But considering that Efficiency Nova Scotia is a relatively new player to the game so to speak, we’re not taking a backseat to anyone.

 

Certainly the kinds of savings we’ve had - I mentioned a few minutes ago a savings of the order of 1.2 per cent, 1.3 per cent, of our overall electricity usage in 2011 - ranks right up there with any jurisdiction in North America in terms of the savings we’re achieving and we’re only looking upwards from here in terms of what we’re going to achieve going forward.

 

There can be different motivations for energy efficiencies. Certainly in Nova Scotia it’s all about saving customers’ money on relatively high energy prices. Most of our energy is imported here. In jurisdictions like Quebec or Manitoba or B.C., it’s saving energy at home so that they can export that electricity and make a healthy profit on it as it moves into the U.S. Those benefits flow back to their customers at home then, but it doesn’t change the reality of an emphasis on energy efficiency and the reality that it’s the cheaper alternative than generating new electricity, if you will, building new plants and that sort of thing. Those opportunities would be the same here as they are in any other jurisdiction - way cheaper to conserve than it is to generate that new kilowatt hour.

 

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you. I’ll be sharing time with the member for Antigonish, but one last question.

 

The government caucus had an outreach in Amherst and I had the pleasure of shopping in a very unique store, Dayle’s I believe it was, in downtown Amherst. The overhaul of that huge building, something in the order of $9,000 was saved annually - I think that’s the figure that has been used there. That seems to be a lot of money to save on an annual basis; there must have been significant change there. I certainly don’t want you to go through it all, but the situation - is that a real figure?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: It’s not an isolated case by any stretch. We have information from schools, from Home Hardware stores, from smaller stores that would be selling fabrics - for example, I think of one in Dartmouth where the savings are huge. The feedback I consistently get when I’m talking to participants from our programs is that I wish I had done it sooner; if I had known those kinds of savings were there, I wish I had done that several years before, because certainly it’s money in my back pocket that I wouldn’t have had previously and all the more important with electricity prices increasing.

 

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, I’ll turn it over to Mr. Smith.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Smith.

 

MR. MAURICE SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to start off by telling you that I’m one of your very happy customers. We have a cottage, and we got the cottage about 35 years ago. The cottage was probably built in the late 1930s and in that cottage there was an old refrigerator, an Admiral, the big old heavy ones that looked like a Coke machine kind of thing. Anyway, last year we had them come and take it away. We also had another old fridge, what you called the beer fridge, and that went, as well as a freezer. So I got rid of these refrigerators and a freezer and got a cheque for $105, which was very pleasant, which we placed on the new energy efficient refrigerator - but you’re telling me that I saved probably $200 a year per unit on electricity on running those?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Yes. Those old appliances, an old refrigerator, an old freezer, could easily use $200 bucks a year as far as electricity costs go.

 

MR. SMITH: That’s why I’m happy now that my wife bought that extra-big fridge, because it will be paid for in a couple years. We actually tried to access the program the year before - they were doing in Cape Breton but our area was outside the area. It started off as a pilot program - is it now across the province?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Yes, it is. That’s quite common with new programs that we would introduce - generally there can be a few bugs to work out or just to get the administrative system in process so that it works smoothly and people aren’t waiting a long while for their old appliance to be picked up, that sort of thing. We’ll run a pilot to start with, get that squared away and then roll it out more broadly. Certainly with appliance replacement it was a situation where we had two pilots in the province the first year that were implemented, and last year, in 2011, it was rolled out province-wide. Similarly with the Small Business Energy Solutions program that started out as just a lighting program, but it was targeted at a couple of areas in the province initially and now has been rolled out province-wide.

 

MR. SMITH: I can tell you that I encouraged my brother-in-law, who also has a cottage, and they removed an old fridge as well. The interesting thing is that people weren’t removing their old fridges because you had to pay to get someone to come and get them, if you could, and the other thing is then you had to pay a fee to get rid of them because of the Freon. So instead of paying money out, you’re actually getting money back - and I think it’s encouraging people. So it’s a great program, I think.

 

One of the things I wanted to ask you about is a follow-up to my friend Mr. Younger’s question about the federal program, the EnerGuide program that was cut. Can you tell us how much of the work that was done on upgrades and that kind of thing in Nova Scotia, what percentage perhaps was funded by that program, and are we going to be able to fill the slack?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: That was a program for upgrading existing houses, commonly known as the EnerGuide program or the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program. The federal incentives were up to $5,000, but the program was available - like incentives on the electricity side, incentives from the province, provincial funding, and incentives from the federal government, so I think the important message here is the incentives with provincial funding, the incentives from electricity, are still there going forward. It’s only the federal incentive that has disappeared.

 

That was a big piece; it was up to $5,000. It would be unusual for customers in Nova Scotia to get the full $5,000 rebate; I think, on average, the federal rebate would have probably been in the order of $1,500, something of that sort. I don’t want to minimize the impact of not having that $5,000 incentive. As Mr. Faulkner mentioned a few minutes ago, we’ve looked at ways to offset that gap from there being no federal incentive, so there will be larger incentives on the electricity side.

 

As well, we’re looking at putting a financing program in place that would remove a barrier in a different way - we don’t have the resources to just step in and fill the gap that the federal government provided previously. I don’t think anyone would expect that in Nova Scotia we have that kind of capacity for writing cheques, but we’re certainly looking at alternatives that will help maintain a strong activity for upgrading existing houses even in the absence of federal incentives.

 

MR. SMITH: I just wanted to follow up on one of the questions my friend, Mr. MacKinnon, asked, and he was talking about that business in Amherst that saved $9,000 a year. In one of your brochures here it talks about The People’s Place Library in Antigonish, which is the building immediately next to my office in Antigonish, and $12,000 a year saved there - $1,000 a month on their bill. It’s a fabulous enhancement to that project.

 

One of the things I wanted to ask, is there a wait list for audits in Nova Scotia?

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: There can be from time to time. I don’t know today how long that wait list would be. Do you know?

 

MR. FAULKNER: It could be in the order of three to six weeks. It is up and down because of the federal program officially ending, I guess, June 30th. There’s quite a strong demand for the auditors, so it ebbs and flows.

 

MR. SMITH: You’re saying that the cost of an audit is $500 - but there’s a subsidy for $350 of that?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Yes.

 

MR. SMITH: Is that for everyone or is it means tested?

 

MR. FAULKNER: Generally that’s the cost for everyone. There are some additional subsidies offered to low to medium - low-income customers don’t pay for that at all and then through low- to medium-income, I don’t know the cut-off specifically, but they get a further rebate as well.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith, your time has expired.

 

Just before I ask Mr. Crandlemire for closing comments, I would like to personally say that I’ve made renovations on my home at my own expense. I had the energy audit done and didn’t get anything done in time to get rebates from it. I went from burning about eight to nine cords of wood a year down to about two-and-a-half cords a year to heat my home. So it really does pay off. I’ll never get my money back, what I invested, but over time somebody down the road, when I’m long gone out of the home, will get benefit from it. But it is worth it, the home is a lot warmer and, indeed, the work you’re doing is very, very important. The energy savings that companies are saying they’re getting, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re getting that - and they’ll probably get a lot more.

 

I want to thank you and your staff for the fantastic job you are doing working with Nova Scotians, to make life more affordable here while at the same time other factors are creating a great deal of financial grief for people. I want to commend you and your staff and the work you've done with my constituency office, too, to help local constituents.

 

MR. CRANDLEMIRE: Just to follow-up on your comments, Mr. Colwell, you are seeing that saving going forward as far as five or six cord of wood goes, and my expectation is that your home is more comfortable today with those changes than it has ever been previously, which has significant value in its own right, above and beyond the savings on wood.

 

Just in closing comments, thank you for the opportunity for discussion this morning. We hope it has been useful to you and will help show Nova Scotians the value of energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is all about getting more for less - more savings on your power bills, more money in your pocket, more competitive businesses, more investment in the local economy, and all because you are using less energy, making the savings work for you.

 

None of us can control the price of gas or electricity or heating oil but, if you know how, you can control how much you consume and how efficiently you consume it- and that’s where Efficiency Nova Scotia comes in. We are here to help you use energy better. Just as we all know the importance of driving fuel-efficient cars, we all need to know the importance of living in fuel-efficient homes and working in energy efficient businesses.

 

Energy efficiency improvements made in 2011 will save Nova Scotians about $100 million in electricity costs, and efficiency improvements in 2012 will spur $40 million worth of economic activity in the province - work for electricians, carpenters, insulators, plumbers and more, from Yarmouth to Amherst, Dartmouth to Glace Bay. Energy efficiency is the lowest cost greenest option for Nova Scotians. Energy waste and rising energy costs are the problems; Efficiency Nova Scotia is a big part of the solution - we help Nova Scotians find the ways to fight back against rising costs.

 

These are Nova Scotians' programs. We are all paying for them, so we encourage you to get in touch with Efficiency Nova Scotia at 1-877-999-6035 to help you make your home or business more energy efficient. The moment you make these improvements you are saving money on your next energy bill and every energy bill you will ever get after that. Thank you.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr. Crandlemire, and thank you again for coming today.

 

Does the Auditor General have any comments?

 

MR. TERRY SPICER: No.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: With that, a motion to adjourn - just one second, before we do that we're going to have subcommittee immediately following this, just agenda setting and procedures.

 

Our next meeting is April 18th, the Chief Information Officer is coming from Disaster Preparedness, and Major Government Information Systems will be here.

 

Now a motion to adjourn is in order.

 

MR. MACKINNON: So moved.

 

MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you.

 

We stand adjourned.

 

[The committee adjourned at 10:58 a.m.]