Great time to refresh community energy strategy

December 7, 2015

I am in the last stretches of completing a review Guelph community energy strategy and much has changed over its 10 year history.

In the beginning, we put our focus on energy to create a big tent to engage as many people as possible.  This opened the door to talk with some, although not all, of the doubters.  Even doubters are interested in saving money through energy efficiency if not reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.  Those who were concerned about global warming were already in the tent.

Fast forward to 2015 and we have a new global consensus emerging on climate change with Environment Minister Catherine McKenna pushing for a 1.5 C target at the Paris climate talks.

When we developed Guelph’s community energy plan, we did not anticipate the precipitous drop in the cost of solar panels or the Green Energy Act.  The FIT and micro-FIT programs  successfully promoted the uptake of solar energy in our community.

We also did not foresee the rapid advancement in electric vehicles and storage technologies.

We did not predict the changes to provincial legislation that provided a new financing tool (Local Improvement Charges) to promote home energy retrofits.

District energy and combined heat and power were poorly understood but today are increasingly recognized as a fundamental part of the energy transition. Nor had we conceived of the smart technologies that would make it even easier to save energy.

We did anticipate that we would get better data and modelling over time and that has come true.

We will soon have a national and provincial climate change strategies and programs to respond to. Guelph is policy-ready and project-ready as are the other communities that have invested in community energy planning over the last decade.

This is a brilliant time to refresh and refocus a community’s energy strategy.

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