Phillips answers critics of Alta. energy plan

20 Mar 2017
Lethbridge Herald
J.W. Schnarr
[email protected]


The Wildrose wants Albertans to pay more for their energy, and the Progressive Conservative party wants the province to do nothing when it comes to improving energy efficiency, says Alberta’s environment minister.

Speaking at an event for the announcement of a new 15-kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system and lighting upgrade for the Lethbridge Farm Stewardship Centre on Friday, Shannon Phillips responded to criticism by the opposition regarding the selection of Ontario-based Ecofitt to install energy efficiency upgrades in Alberta homes as part of the Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program.

“The Wildrose would like to slam the door on any company that would like to do business in Alberta,” Phillips said. “Clearly, they are not welcoming new jobs and investment.”

She said the company selected was chosen out of the competitive tender process and were the lowest-cost bidder.

“Clearly, the WIldrose would like us to pay more for that, but that’s not an approach that our government is going to take.”

She said the company is in the process of hiring 70 people and has leased 10,000 square feet of warehouse space in Calgary.

“It’s a place where the economy can really use a shot in the arm,” she said. “The Wildrose would like to take us to a time when we are not saving money on their electricity bills.” On March 6, the Wildrose Party issued a statement criticizing the program and the decision, calling it a “corporate welfare handout” which has allowed Ecofitt to expand its operations with government money.

“The NDP government is taking billions of dollars from Albertans to spend on pet projects for out-of-province companies and it’s Albertans who are losing out,” Wildrose shadow electricity and renewables minister Don MacIntyre stated in the Wildrose release.

“Albertans would rather have their money stay in their pockets instead of the government taking their money so they offer them ‘free’ installation of power bars and nightlights.”

But Phillips said decisions by previous governments has made hiring out-of-province sometimes necessary.

“The fact of the matter is that Alberta has never had an efficiency strategy,” she said. “So many of these companies are going to be coming from elsewhere, where there is already expertise on energy efficiency.

“Because the previous government did nothing on energy efficiency, we became the last place in North America without these kinds of programs. It will take Alberta a little bit of time to catch up, but, at the end of the day, these kinds of procurement has to be competitive. The people of Alberta must get the best deal possible.

“The Wildrose would like us to pay more, and the Conservatives would prefer we do nothing at all.”