07/01/2011

Municipal Facilities Offer Rich Conservation Opportunities, an AMO Backgrounder for the Ontario Provincial Election 2011.
Rising energy costs have hit the municipal bottom line hard, both in terms of increased costs and reduced industrial tax base.  As operators of numerous public facilities with high energy demands – from offices to community centres and long-term care facilities – municipalities can reap many benefits from energy conservation. Such efforts are critical to helping municipalities substantially reduce costs and environmental impacts. However, in most municipalities this potential goes largely untapped.

Municipal Energy Overview

  • The Municipal Sector now spends well over $1 billion per year on energy.
  • Water and waste water treatment accounts for roughly 33% of municipal energy use.
  • Great conservation potential: reduction estimates range between 7-12%.
  • The only dedicated provincial funding for municipal energy conservation was cancelled in 2009.
  • 77% of Ontario’s municipalities have less than 20,000 people, and therefore lack the capacity need to invest in conservation.
While some local governments have been active in this area for a number of years, many small and medium sized municipalities lack the staff, technological capacity and financial resources to develop energy management plans. Competing municipal priorities makes it particularly difficult to adequately resource these efforts.

AMO will continue to advocate for conservation and demand management (CDM) programs developed specifically for the municipal sector – something that has been lacking since the Ontario government’s short-lived Municipal Eco Challenge Fund was abruptly cancelled in 2009. The large demand reduction potential of municipalities will not be realized without capacity support, especially for the 314 municipalities with less than 20,000 people.

All political parties need to consider conservation programming that looks beyond technology-focused pilots and electricity demand reduction to the crucial goal of developing staff capacity. This goal is best supported by:
  • a one-window approach to programs within the OPA;
  • municipal account managers at the utility level; and,
  • financial support for both energy managers and specific conservation and demand management programs for facilities with high energy needs, such as community centres and ice rinks.