Energy Efficiency Businesses President Stephen Farrell would like clear direction from Natural Resources Canada on the future of Canada's Greener Homes Initiative.
Uncertainty surrounding the program's future has created a flood of calls from worried customers to his companies. Some already in the process fear not receiving the refund. Others want to register as quickly as possible.
I tell them: let's assume the date is the end of February and sign up by then.
Stephen Farrell canceled all its employees to respond to as many people as possible. Priority is given to the first energy assessments.
This is the year of survival . The goal is to save as many jobs as possible.
A quote from Stephen Farrell, Chairman of the VT Group
This influx of activity, however, is little consolation compared to the consequences of the premature end of the Initiative.
We're doing 500-600 [reviews] per month right now. If there are no more grants, we will be lucky to do two per month, worries Stephen Farrell.
Nicolas Gautier had his house in Calgary assessed so that he could then install solar panels and benefit from the federal subsidy.
On the other hand, the owner admits that if the process did not require him to do so, he would have skipped the evaluation stage.
I am not sure that in the context of installing solar panels, it will be very useful since the consumption before and after will be the same. […] The house is very new.
Stephen Farrell hopes to be able to keep all his employees by distributing them among the other activities of his group, but he notes that to prepare, companies must have the information on hand.
The fall will be massive. We need clarity, he says.
Energy Werx Alberta shares the same concerns. The energy assessment company has quintupled its staff over the past three years to meet demand from the Canadian Initiative.
This is so worrying. We have 20 employees who have invested their time and money. We're asking them to give their all in the next six weeks to help as many people as possible, and then what happens?, says co-owner Rachael Murphy.
She notes the federal government spent $10 million to train 2,000 counselors.
We will never have enough work to keep all our staff if the grant ends.
A quote from Rachael Murphy
However, energy advisors are not the only ones to worry. Solar panel installer Zeno Renewables has revised its targets 30-40% lower for this year in anticipation of the end of the Initiative.
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The number of solar panel installations on small sites increased by 30% in one year in Alberta.
According to co-chairman and CEO Gursh Bal, the uncertainty surrounding the future of the program is causing many customers to hesitate. Many people stop the process and wait to see what happens, he explains.
Energy efficiency advisors are busier than ever because they are the first stop. But downstream, installers like us, those of windows, those of heat pumps are suffering. We are lacking liquidity because clients are holding back for fear of not being approved.
This creates concern for our customers and concern for us. Due to the lack of communication, our teams are anxious.
A quote from Gursh Bal, co-CEO of Zeno Renewables
The Association Canadian Energy Advisors hopes that even if the subsidy ends, Canadians will recognize the importance of getting an assessment of their home.
The new building code should also encourage greater energy performance.
Energy Werx co-owner Rachael Murphy, however, fears that the sector will struggle to recover.
We could lose a huge portion of trained and specialized employees in the field. They will go find another job and then we will have to convince them to come back. It would be very destructive.