By Tim Kalinowski
The Energy Efficiency Alberta Advisory Panel rolled into Medicine Hat last Monday (Sept. 12) afternoon for an open house event at the Esplanade. The panelists brought with them a message of energy conservation, better energy efficiency and Albertans finding ways to do more to reduce their carbon footprint. While not focused on the ramifications of the Alberta’s carbon levy specifically, the levy is certainly the backdrop in front of which the panel is operating when making its proposals to Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, (who also made a whistle stop in Medicine Hat on Monday), in their November 1 report.
“This isn’t about the carbon levy, it is about energy efficiency and the community energy system,” insisted panel member Tanya Doran. However, Doran admitted, when pressed, the recommendations the panel would eventually be bringing forth would be funded largely through the provincial carbon levy.
According to Doran, the carbon levy would be a reinvestment in greater energy efficiency in Alberta, saving average Albertans plenty on their energy bills.
“It’s better than people think it is. That reinvestment is important. I have been working in the energy efficiency realm for about 25 years. I know what that reinvestment can do. I can also tell you we are the only jurisdiction in North America that doesn’t have any efficiency programming.”
Doran was asked if the seven panelists, many of whom have a background in energy efficiency and environmental movement including Doran herself, who works for Stantec as a Senior Stability Lead, had already made up their minds and the public consultation phase was merely a formality.
“No decisions have been made yet,” she insisted. “Personally, as a panelist, I intend to take all the information and make great and meaningful suggestions for carbon reductions related to energy efficiency and community energy systems, and to make those recommendations to the Minister.”
Doran, who has relatives in Bow Island, wanted to stress the point that ordinary Albertans are not being required to do any kind of efficiency upgrading, but energy efficiency in the home can save families money and help leave a better carbon footprint going forward.
“The carbon levy will incent those who want to do more to save. If you want to save money on energy consumption then you have the ability to be master of that energy consumption in your own home.”
Panel members were also concerned, said Doran, the new carbon levy might be downloaded and not used properly where it was intended to be used. She gave the hypothetical example of an apartment renter being asked to pay more rent to absorb the tax but no actual energy efficiency work being done on the structure where they lived.
“This is a complex discussion to what is also a complex issue,” she said. “There’s no sugar-coating it.”
The panel’s final report to the government will be submitted on November 1. Those wanting to give feedback can still do so online until that time by visiting the panel’s website at http://www.alberta.ca/energy-efficiency.aspx