Bring Back the GreenON Energy Rebate Program
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The GreenON program was introduced in December 2017 and rolled out over the following several months. Though industry was consulted in advance, the run-up to launch was very short and the rollout was rather swift, perhaps too swift for everyone’s liking, and industry had to move quickly to make the necessary preparations to realize the potential benefits provided by the program. But despite some initial concerns about way the program was introduced, by mid-June, no fewer than 1,500 contractors registered to participate in this program, including insulation contractors, windows contractors and geothermal and air source heat pump contractors. Collectively, these businesses have booked tens of millions of dollars of planned work. Once rolling, the overall economic activity was expected to be on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars in private sector investment.
By June, our members reported that the program had already stimulated a great deal of consumer interest. As details of the program became clearer and contractors became mobilized, expectations were growing for a boom in home renovation investments, with one of the main benefits for homeowners being a significant reduction in their energy bills. These are benefits that will vanish with
the demise of the program.
The businesses registered into the program have also had to invest in specific training and certification courses for their employees to meet with program requirements, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per company. On the geothermal program alone, more than 300 industry personnel have been
trained, with many hundreds more in waiting. With the cancellation of GreenON programs, many of these contractors will not see a return on their investment. Indeed, layoffs are more likely as market demand softens due to the removal of incentives.
Rather than turn its back on the very positive benefits that this program will bring, the OGA and its supporters urge the Ontario Government to re-think its approach to programs of this type. While originally devised as a means to reduce carbon emissions, the GreenON incentive program is, in fact, an economic stimulus and job creation program, and a very cost-effective one at that. Recent research
produced by Efficiency Canada and Clean Energy Canada shows that government and utility investments in energy efficiency upgrades to homes and buildings generate substantial economic benefits, including energy savings for consumers, growth in GDP, and the creation and support for well-paid, quality jobs in the renovation sector. This research shows that every dollar spent on programs like this generates seven dollars of GDP growth. Good program design is critical to getting this type of return on investment, but the industry is prepared to work with the government to ensure the full value of the investment is realized.
The Ontario Geothermal Association (OGA) is supportive of a government committed to helping small business owners to prosper while ensuring their customers -- the energy ratepayers of the Ontario – see the long-desired relief on their energy bills. Our simple message is that some of the tools to help the new government achieve these goals already exist, and one of those tools is the GreenON program of incentives. By all means, tinker with the program – it could benefit from some tinkering (perhaps even consider re-introducing it as an economic stimulus, job creation program that lowers energy bills) – but do not terminate a program that was shaping up to provide real benefits to citizens in every part of the province.
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