Greed Energy Act Audits Scrapped

Green Energy Act announcement 2009

By Peter Gorrie   Toronto Star

Remember the Ontario government’s plan to require energy audits for homes that are up for sale?

It is, I’m told, kaput — another sign that all is not well with the much-vaunted Green Energy Act, the legislation the government called “our path to a green economy and a cleaner environment.”

The audit program was part of the act, which received Royal Assent in May 2009.

Like most legislation these days, it didn’t establish fully realized programs. Instead, it stated intentions and authorized the government to implement them through detailed regulations.

The mandatory audits were dwarfed in importance by other measures, including the feed-in tariffs intended to boost development of wind, solar and other renewable electricity. Still, they’d help to create demand in the resale housing market for features that reduce consumption of heating fuel and electricity.

But the real estate industry objected – it wants only voluntary audits — and the program has, apparently, been killed.

“I find it extremely disappointing and surprising,” says one industry insider who supports mandatory audits. Most buyers don’t understand the value of many efficiency features, “and the market isn’t able to explain it to them.”

Energy and Infrastructure Minister Brad Duguid, the insider continues, “is failing to show the same strength of leadership and understanding . . . that were expressed by (his predecessor) George Smitherman. Mandatory audits “would have allowed Ontario to be a leading jurisdiction that others look to for best practices. Instead, we’re putting ourselves back into the laggard position.”

There is, of course, no guarantee that Smitherman — who quit Queen’s Park for Toronto’s mayoralty campaign — would have stayed the course. The Liberal government consistently loses its spine between legislation and regulation, and the demise of the home audits isn’t the only example from the Green Energy Act.

Bowing to pressure from various interests, the government chopped the feed-in-tariff price it will pay for small, ground-mounted solar electricity projects. It also banned installation of offshore wind turbines closer than five kilometres to land.

Both changes were arbitrary. There’s no evidence, for example, that keeping wind turbines five kilometres from shore is either necessary or adequate to prevent the threats to human health or migratory birds that their critics decry.

Five seems to be just a number pulled from a hat to solve a modest political problem.

Collectively, these moves undercut the notion Ontario is a reliable place to do business, at a time when it’s fighting tough global competition to attract renewable energy investments.

The province barely registers in a new United Nations report on the industry’s rapid growth. Several U.S. states are determined to dominate the North American market. Ontario’s main advantage against them is the feed-in tariff, with its promise of a steady price for renewable electricity for 20 years.

“The key word is stability,” says Jacob Travis, of the Ontario Solar Academy, a group aiming to professionalize the small-scale solar industry.” The arbitrary government changes are “spooking people who were considering investing.” The moves “raise concerns about what’s down the road.”

“The government had been leasing land for people to explore offshore . . . within five kilometres,” says Robert Hornung, president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association.

The new limit “creates a tremendous amount of anxiety about whether there’s a possibility of rule changes in the future.

“It will be very important that whatever the rules are going forward, that people have a high degree of confidence these will be the rules . . . and that they won’t be subject to change again.”

The government insists that’s the case. But its performance suggests anyone intending to get involved with Green Energy Act programs should be wary.

peter.gorrie@sympatico.ca

15 thoughts on “Greed Energy Act Audits Scrapped

  1. Oh the indignation being felt by Gorrie and others like Hornung when the reality of the Green Energy Act is beginning to be realized………….Boo Hoo………..mandatory audits………..mandatory price increases…………mandatory Planning……… .mandatory water conservation……………mandatory sex education…..mandatory GOVERNANCE!

    Why would any Free and Democratic citizen of Ontario wish anything “mandatory” from these fools who claim to be our “leaders”?

    Unless, people like Gorrie are looking for “browny points” from McGuinty’s Government so they can keep their jobs in dishing out the “pablum” in the “sold out media”?

  2. I think the real issue is that the audits would have highlighted the enormous increase in energy costs. It would have created a backlash of biblical proportions.

    I think that the requirement should be brought back., It would mobilize opposition to this gang of fools faster than any other measure conceivable.

    …and they knew that!

  3. Having built a home in which I could “age in place” that had all the available energy saving technology features built into it in 2004 at the cost of my life’s savings, I am well aware that house buyers are completely unaware of the energy saving/conserving features. Or if aware are not willing to pay the price.

    Now that the Clear Creek/Cultus/Frogmore IWT ZONE has surrounded my home for 20 months with 18 Vestas 1.65 MW IWT’s within a 3 km radius, not a single offer has been made for my home which has been on the “market” since mid December 2009.

    Sleep deprivation has pushed me to extraordinary lenghts to try to save my health, but even though I spent thousands renting a place to sleep > 40 km from my home returning only sporadically to monitor and now have prevailed on my son who lets me sleep in his trailer ~ 16 km away from the IWT’s, I think I may be losing the struggle. The effects of staying in my home only during the day from ~ 10 am to ~ 9 pm are suppressing my immune system which in turn is allowing opportunistic bacteria to wreak havoc. On July 25th I finished a 10 day course of antibiotics only to be told by my family doc that I had to start another, 7 day course of 2 more antibiotics. What a mess for one who has been characterized most of my life as a health enthusiast.

    It looks as though the MoHLTC is going to have to fund the calamities resulting from the follies of the MoE/MoE&I/Liberal MPP’s.

  4. The people of Ontario have been HAD and the sad part of is the vast majority of them do not even know they have been HAD by this green energy scam.

    As the energy prices rise this leaves less disposble income that can be spent at Wal-Mart or any other businesses in Ontario.

    Rises in energy prices will cost more jobs than can ever be created by the so called green energy jobs scams.

    Don’t people realize that businesses look for the cheapest energy costs when looking for suitable locations to expand or startup.

  5. So the real estate industry didn’t like the mandatory audits? Thought it would have a negative effect on their sales? Their sight is worse than Mr Magoo’s if they think THAT is their only problem. What happens when houses, like the one cited above near Clear Creek/Frogmore, are affected in value? When Southwest Ontario is covered in wind turbines, what then? Agents who have specialized in certain communities that then become involuntary neighbours of turbine developments will be hit, hard…and yet, in the main they say nothing.

  6. As someone who had Geothermal installed and took advantage of the Fed and Prov Grants we had o have two energy audits done – before and after. The audits themselves are not an issue we went from 63% to 86% efficency.

    What we find interesting is that real estate agents and buyers refuse to pay the price for such a house and in particular agents say it adds no value to a property. Our farm is for sale and we have had no offers at all not even low ones. Despite having no oil or wood costs, the Geo does it all.

    Our energy bills each month are $210 for a family of 5. And we have a hot tub, home business, stay at home mum with young kids and run farm equip.

    All anyone else has to pay is TV, Phone and Internet and council tax. As we are on our own well and septic.

    Yet when we listed our farm we were told despite spending $30,000 on the Geo it had not put any value on the house and despite leaving the instructions out potential buyers are confused by it and worry about the electrical costs even though there are no other heating or cooling costs.

    All agents and buyers care about is does it have a water view.

  7. Caroline:

    If I had to use alternative energy, a heat pump would be my choice.

    Having said that… If you look at the economics of switching from a gas furnace to a heat pump you have to look at the capital cost of the heat pump and then the recovery of the price difference between it and natural gas, propane or oil. Assuming you save between $1000 and $2000 a year (assuming you use it for air conditioning as well), it can take a long time for cost recovery — and I suspect the savings are lower. Now I realize that is simplified, and I do know how to do the calculations, however, I wanted to point out that there is really only one way to look at this. I want to be warm for the least possible dollar in reasonable comfort. That is all most people want.

    I think most people recognize most “Green Energy” as a scam and think the fad will go away. Most people who support wind turbines are not educated as to the value of the power and the health risks.

    I recognize that many people support IWT’s because they are distant and romantic object in a scene. Living next to one is a different matter. If they knew the extra cost of their power, and that they do not save the planet it would be a different story.

    Most people support the concept of Green Energy, if introduced to the reality most people change their minds.

    A few turbines in High Park would change the minds of most city dwellers. Toronto needs some IWT’s installed or this issue will drag out for a long time and completely polarize the province.

  8. To heat our home previously on oil was $7,000 a year for the size of our house so we have made a HUGE saving. If it was not for the fact that we have a very sick relative back in the UK we would not be selling. When we lived in NS we had a heat pump which like our GEO could be run in reverse for Air con and the cost to heat a smaller house of 1900sq ft was $290 a month. So the Geo is still way better.

    I personally think an energy audit is a good idea and so is a seller’s package – saves a lot of time in paper work at the end of the selling process. But its what I’m used to in the UK. If everyone had to do an energy audit it would make them look at how they use / waste energy in their daily lives and thus we could all make the changes that actually do effect waste and could save the plnet without the need of IWT etc.

  9. Well, Caroline, even a water view doesn’t cut it here in the Clear Creek/Cultus/Frogmore IWT ZONE.

    I own ~ 7 acres of Lake Erie as well as the 13 acres on which my home is built and NO OFFERS.

  10. Same here except we have 40 acres and are on a hill with a 360 unspoilt view all round, soil which you can grow Pinot Noir on and in an area that you cannot build IWT cos of the DND issues. New build house over 2000sq ft with over 1000sq ft of covered wrap around decking No water view though. Price $399,000. no offers, no even low stupid ones.
    Realtors will not admit that the thought of IWT in an area can scare people even if they cannot be built in your area.

  11. Caroline:

    Don’t put out an instruction manual.

    Put out one sheet of paper summarizing the capital cost vs the savings. That’s all people want is the justification.

    $7000 is a lot of money for Oil. That summary should do the trick.

  12. If it were me, I’d catalog before and after estimates of carbon footprint Caroline – especially if IWT’s are visible or envisioned nearby.
    Your only looking to sell the home to one person – and that aims at the person it will appeal to the most.

  13. I am very confused. After a decline in my original trade(printing) I decided to enroll in the Renewable Energy course at Durham College via Second Careers. After the first year, I come out of there with the ability to become and Energy Advisor and I land a contract position with a service organization. Since the time I enrolled in this gov’t supported program, the Feds have backed out of the pre-retrofit program(as scheduled) and announced nothing of a new program or conservation at a press conference shortly after. The whole press conference was about the FIT program and how they were to focus their time and money on that. Then the solar FIT price is reduced reducing even more incentive. And now I read this very disheartening article and comments here about no money being in conservation.
    It just seems to me that this trade is being destroyed before it has really started and I (amongst many others) have lost 2 careers in two years. Am I far off the mark here? Am I wrong for feeling like I have wasted a lot of time and money with the feeling of being taken advantage of?

  14. Hi Dan,

    I believe the winning industries will emerge. That’s the problem with massive subsidization, it creates a false illusion of a sustainable industry.

    The public and government are enamored with “clean, green, free” energy. The problem is there is no such thing. Wind and solar need back up by fossil fuel plants. They are an extremely expensive and unreliable way to generate electricity. McGuinty’s plan to create 150,000 jobs was pure political hogwash.

    I do hope you find some decent work. It is not easy.

  15. I’m surprised you didn’t find a real estate professional who would market the green benefits of your home and price it accordingly. Look for someone who has the EcoBroker, NAR GREEN, and/or Accredited Green Agent/Broker designation.

    Marketing the green benefits of a property may be a limitation of your agent’s real estate board MLS. There may not be a designated field for “geothermal” (vs gas or oil as heating). Also, for comparative market analysis, historical sales data may not have that kind of information.

    Personally, I think energy audits are (were) a step in the right direction, but consumers and real estate professionals need to understand the Energuide rating system (eg its limitations as a means of comparing two different homes) and more time to train/certify a sufficient number of home energy auditors to service the industry.

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