The Alberta government is getting set to launch a residential energy savings plan next month, but local contractors and suppliers claim they’ve been shut out.
Here’s how the Residential No-Charge Energy Savings Program will work: Albertans can sign up online, and then an energy adviser will come to their home and give advice on how to make it more energy-efficient.
Light bulbs will be replaced with LED products, power bars and thermostats replaced with more efficient and programmable versions, and even shower heads will be changed out for ones that conserve water — all for free, because the program is being funded by the provincial carbon tax.
WATCH ABOVE: Tips for reducing energy consumption around your home.
The province said the contract went to Ontario-based Ecofitt because it offered the best price for Albertans.
“This company was chosen out of a competitive tender so they were the lowest cost provider, so we can get more products in the hands of Albertans,” Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said.
“I think this is inappropriate,” Wildrose Energy Critic Don MacIntyre said. “I think we should be looking at the out-of-work people we’ve got in this province.
“But more so than that, we had a number of small businesses right across Alberta who were involved in energy efficiency already.”
Edmonton-based Aim Energy Pros is one of those businesses. CEO David Gray questioned why anyone would want to purchase energy-efficient products from any Alberta business now, if they know they can get them for free in the near future.
“I’m livid that the government has decided that they should just cut the knees out of everybody who is already in energy efficiency practices in Alberta because they don’t have the expertise. That’s just hogwash,” Gray said.
Gray said his company applied for the residential contract, but claims the request for proposal was geared specifically for Ecofitt.
“It was pretty clear from the start that RFP that was put out was targeted towards the one company that won it. We know that because in order to find some of the do-dads that they wanted, that company’s name kept coming up as the supplier,” he explained.
The province insisted Ecofitt was the most competitive offer. It said the company is setting up a warehouse in Calgary and hiring 70 people for the program.
The head of the energy program in Alberta said it will spur other opportunities.
“We will see a lot of Alberta electricians and plumbers and appliance sales people engage in this process,” David Dodge with Energy Efficiency Alberta said. “I understand it’s a little unnerving at the moment before we get started but in a few weeks, it will all get started and we simply generate a lot of business.”
Perhaps business for some — but not for Aim Energy Pros.
“Why wouldn’t you take the money and put it into rebates for existing companies that already have a stock of light bulbs they’re trying to sell to Alberta consumers as opposed to cutting them off at the knees?” Gray said.
“They’ve taken what should have been a start for an energy efficiency industry in Alberta and turned it into a photo-op.”