Milestone $155 million investment approved for FortisBC’s energy efficiency programs
FortisBC Energy Inc. and FortisBC Inc. (collectively FortisBC) received approval from the British Columbia Utilities Commission to invest more than $155 million into conservation and energy efficiency programs in 2023, marking the highest annual investment by the energy utility to date.
In addition to directly supporting its customers in making energy efficiency upgrades, the funding will allow increased investment in the next generation of high efficiency technologies and programs such as dual-fuel hybrid systems, gas heat pumps and deep energy retrofits.
This unprecedented support for energy efficiency and conservation in British Columbia will help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, lessen the need for new energy infrastructure and support the province in meeting its climate action goals.
“This is an incredible opportunity to support our customers and advance energy efficiency in B.C.,” said Joe Mazza, vice president, energy supply and resource development.
“We’re always looking for innovative solutions to help lower energy use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in sustainable and affordable ways for our customers. This record investment allows for more focus on new technologies and pilot programs, so we can lay the groundwork for advancing energy reductions in the future.”
The majority of the funds, $141 million, are earmarked to support gas efficiency programs and are expected to result in the annual energy reductions of more than 1.6 million gigajoules, that’s the equivalent annual energy use of 33,000 gasoline-powered cars per year. Using energy more efficiently is critical to meeting B.C.’s climate action goals because it reduces associated GHG emissions and allows the gas system to meet the remaining energy needs through renewable and low carbon gases.
For example, Providence Health Care completed energy-efficiency upgrades at one of its Vancouver long-term care homes in 2022 that lowered its annual operational costs by an estimated $100,000 and was eligible to receive more than $300,000 in FortisBC energy efficiency incentives. By designating all of its remaining gas use as Renewable Natural Gas, Providence is reducing its emissions impact even further.
“Patients and residents are the reason we do what we do, and why we continue to look for opportunities to make improvements that have a positive impact,” said Anthony Munster, executive director of projects, planning and facilities management at Providence.
“Improving operations through energy efficiency upgrades allows us to make spaces more comfortable while also reducing our environmental impact and meeting our climate action goals.”
Approximately $14.5 million in funding targets electric efficiency programs for FortisBC’s electric customers in the southern interior of B.C.
This is expected to support annual energy savings of more than 27 gigawatt hours, the equivalent annual electricity use of more than 2,300 homes per year. Reducing electricity use is critical to supporting climate action because it lessens the amount of new electric infrastructure and generation needed to keep up with expected increases in demand due to population growth and electrifying more of the province’s economy.
It can also reduce upward pressure on rates and the need to purchase electricity generated from unknown or non-renewable sources. Over the next five years, FortisBC plans to invest more than $82 million in electric efficiency programs and expects to achieve collective energy savings of close to 140 gigawatt hours, the electricity-use equivalent of more than 10,000 homes per year.
The combined investment in both natural gas and electricity exceeds the $118 million invested in 2022 and means more funding will go to testing innovative technologies to help inform the next generation of energy efficiency programs.
This includes residential and commerical gas heat pumps as well as deep energy retrofits–a more holistic way of dramatically reducing emissions by addressing the building as a complete system. More funding will also be available to advance energy efficiency with Indigenous communities and support customers on fixed incomes.
Increasing investment in conservation and energy efficiency programs is one of the ways FortisBC is taking the lead in transforming B.C.’s energy future, making progress towards B.C.’s climate actions goals and offering its customers practical and affordable options for reducing their emissions.
Funding for specific energy conservation programs is subject to change each year and FortisBC encourages customers to visit fortisbc.com/rebates to see the current available options.