What New Brunswick should look for in a Canadian Energy Strategy

The following appeared in the Opinion section of the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on Saturday, July 18, in the Letters to the Editor in the Monday, July 20 edition of The Daily Gleaner, and in The Northern Light (Bathurst) on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

What could New Brunswick get out of a Canadian energy strategy? Comfortable homes, lower power bills, and more jobs. These are the opportunities we get from energy efficiency.

Premiers are meeting this week as part of the Canadian Energy Strategy Working Group, a body co-chaired by our Premier Brian Gallant and the premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, and Alberta. Premiers are expected to release their energy strategy as a result of the meetings.

A commitment to energy efficiency investments in the strategy would not only reduce the amount of carbon pollution causing climate change, it would serve as a catalyst for job creation in the trades and technology sectors, particularly here in New Brunswick.

Let’s jump right into the numbers.

* In New Brunswick, government could see a net increase in GDP of between $3-6 for every dollar spent on programs that reduce home and business electricity and energy use. The most aggressive scenario would generate $5.9 billion in GDP (over the study period – 2012-2040).

* Research and modelling by the Acadia Centre shows that in New Brunswick, energy efficiency would create between 22-51 job-years and millions of program spending. The most aggressive scenario would generate a maximum of 2,900 jobs (or a total of 48,000 job-years over the study period).

* Under one of the national scenarios in the Acadia Centre study, the net increase in N.B. government tax revenue is $21 million a year.

And the benefits of energy efficiency go well beyond just jobs. It’ll mean businesses and families won’t spend as much on energy, so they’ll have more money in their pockets to stimulate entrepreneurship and the local economy.

Homes and businesses will be healthier and more comfortable places to live and work.

And as energy efficiency takes hold across the province, NB Power (and taxpayers) won’t be burdened with the need for new, expensive fossil fuel generating stations or energy infrastructure and the cost overruns associated with their maintenance and upgrades – a pain New Brunswickers know all too well.

Our province is near the bottom of the barrel for housing comfort standards across Canada. What that really means, though, is we’re sitting on years’ worth of work for our skilled labourers who too often must leave their hometowns and families for work in western Canada. Energy efficiency is low-hanging fruit that will create good-paying jobs here at home, today.

Lois Corbett is Executive Director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick 

Part of our Renewable Solutions NB Project