Posted on 05/30/2014, 9:32 am, by mySteinbach

Manitoba Hydro is committing to aggressive new energy efficiency targets that will see investments in the utility’s Power Smart programs more than double over the next three years. These investments will save customers $157 million in 2017, bringing total cumulative savings to $1.4 billion since the Power Smart program was launched.

“Our government is committed to helping Manitoba families and businesses invest in energy efficiency to keep their hydro and gas bills among the lowest in North America,” said Stan Struthers, minister responsible for Manitoba Hydro.

The minister noted that under the aggressive new targets, successful Power Smart programs for lower income Manitobans will be strengthened.

“For example, we are expanding the eligibility under the Affordable Energy Program, which already enables lower income customers to install a new energy efficient natural gas furnace for as little as $9.50 a month,” said Struthers. “We are enhancing the program so that it will be easier for more customers to take part. Changes include allowing landlords to use the program to improve the energy efficiency of rental properties, and taking an aggressive street-by-street approach to marketing the program in neighbourhoods like William Whyte, allowing even more Manitoba families to benefit from reduced energy bills.”

First launched in 2007, the Affordable Energy Program offers participants a free home energy audit, free insulation upgrades, pipe wrapping, low-flow showerhead, faucet aerators, energy efficient lighting, as well as free weatherstripping and caulking. Community organizations, such as North End Community Renewal Corporation and BUILD in Winnipeg, promote and coordinate the program within their respective neighbourhoods. This includes helping residents fill out application forms, securing and hiring contractors, and reporting progress to Manitoba Hydro. So far, more than 8,400 homes have participated in the program.

“This investment in new and expanded Power Smart programs demonstrates Manitoba Hydro’s commitment to be a leader in energy efficiency,” said Scott Thomson, President and CEO of Manitoba Hydro. “We have been helping our customers control their energy costs for over 20 years under the Power Smart banner, and this new plan underscores our commitment to moving forward with even more aggressive energy savings in the future.”

Additional energy savings under the new Power Smart plan will be achieved through a number of new and expanded programs that will be announced in the coming weeks and months. These new programs and enhancements target residential, business and commercial customers as Manitoba Hydro aims to generate additional electricity savings of 411 megawatts (MW) and 1064 gigawatt hours (GW.h).

In total, cumulative savings since the inception of Power Smart will equal 905 megawatts of capacity and 3,358 GW.h of electricity by 2017 – equivalent to about half the electrical needs of all residential and commercial customers in the city of Winnipeg. The new plan also aims to reduce natural gas use by about 32 million cubic metres over the same period and 133 million cubic metres combined with past efforts – equivalent to twice the natural gas needs of Brandon’s commercial and residential customers.

The goal is to ensure Manitobans continue to enjoy the benefits of reliable, renewable hydroelectricity at some of the lowest rates in Canada, while minimizing their overall energy costs.