August 30, 2004

New Brunswick to proceed with energy efficiency program development

The New Brunswick cabinet has authorized the provincial Department of Energy to proceed with the next step in developing an energy efficiency program for the province. This will include releasing a white paper on the general scope of the program and consulting stakeholders to obtain their input.

The goals outlined in the white paper, whose release is anticipated this fall, will concentrate on improved efficiency in all sectors, reducing electricity demand to mitigate the need for additional large power plants, maintaining competitive rates, and reducing greenhouse gases.

When the energy efficiency program is finalized, it will provide the market the tools it needs to deliver more efficient products and services in the areas of lighting, heating, ventilation and industrial processing, and the switching of fuels.

Energy efficiency programs, along with demand-side management in the electricity sector, are cost-effective alternatives to building new generating facilities, purchasing power supplies, or increasing transmission and distribution networks. They also offer an effective means of reducing greenhouse gases and other air emissions, while stimulating the economy. Such initiatives ultimately benefit businesses, industry, institutions and homeowners.

Experience in other jurisdictions shows that energy efficiency, besides being good for the environment, is a much more cost-effective way of meeting energy demands than accessing new electricity sources.

"We are on the threshold of launching the most comprehensive energy efficiency program that New Brunswick has ever seen," said Energy Minister Bruce Fitch. He said the government is looking forward to consulting many groups prior to finalizing its energy efficiency program. Consultations will be held with electricity distributors, energy suppliers such as natural gas and oil companies, home building associations, industry, conservation groups, federal government officials, and various provincial government departments. Comments from the general public will be accepted as well.

The creation of an energy efficiency program comes from recommendations in the province's Energy Policy, released in 2001. The department has researched a number of different methods of establishing a program and is ready to move forward following consultation. While other jurisdictions have recently launched energy efficiency programs, Fitch said it is important that the New Brunswick version is designed for the province's own specific needs.

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