Tom Beaulieu – Update on Public Works and Services Energy Conservation Projects

Oct 30 2014

Tom Beaulieu - Official PortraitMr. Speaker, as we head into this year’s heating season, I would like to take this opportunity to update Members on the energy conservation work that the Department of Public Works and Services has been doing.

As Members know, with our northern environment, energy conservation and management are important elements in controlling costs and supporting effective and efficient program delivery in all communities of the Northwest Territories. Our government’s investments in energy efficiency and alternative energy solutions are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, lowering our operating costs and are helping us meet our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Public Works and Services helps the GNWT achieve its energy efficiency goals by leading the adoption of energy conservation and renewable energy technologies.

Earlier this year we published our 2013-2014 Energy Conservation Projects Annual Report and I would like to share some of the highlights from that report.

Last year Mr. Speaker, the GNWT reduced its consumption of fossil fuels by over 2.8 million litres, with 33 percent of the total energy being used in public buildings managed by the Department coming from renewable energy sources. We have done this primarily through early adoption and continued support of biomass technology.

In keeping with commitments to bring biomass systems to our communities and further support the sustainability of this emerging industry, I am happy to report that three new wood pellet boiler systems are now up and running in Norman Wells, including at the Mackenzie Mountain School, the Air Terminal Building and the Department of Transportation’s Combined Services Building. With these systems, the GNWT is ready for this year’s heating season and is supporting the adoption of wood pellet technology in the Sahtu region.

New biomass projects are in the design and construction phases for Hay River, Yellowknife, Norman Wells, Fort Resolution, and Fort Providence. In addition, the biomass systems approved for the Chief Albert Wright School in Tulita, and the Chief T’Selehye School in Fort Good Hope are moving to the design phase while feasibility studies to identify other potential biomass projects are also underway at the Ethseo Ayha School in Deline, and the Deh Cho Region Education Building in Fort Simpson.

It’s not enough to switch to biomass, Mr. Speaker. We also need to conserve energy. To that end, we are doing envelope upgrades and energy efficient lighting projects in schools in Ulukhaktok, Hay River and Sachs Harbour. We also just completed energy retrofits to the Chief Jimmy Bruneau School, the Milton Building, the Mackenzie Mountain School and have pilot projects for LED lighting at the GNWT Warehouse in Yellowknife and LED runway lights in Lutselk’e.

I am pleased to advise Members that 40 percent of the utility savings generated in 2013-14 were a result of energy conservation and building retrofit activities completed by Public Works and Services under the GNWT’s Capital Asset Retrofit Fund program over the past five years.  Permanent savings generated through these energy conservation initiatives will continue to be used to fund the Capital Asset Retrofit Fund program and future investments in energy reduction projects.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of our government’s continued commitment to pursue energy efficiency and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2007, energy conservation projects delivered by Public Works and Services have reduced the government’s need for the equivalent of 12.85 million litres of heating oil in total. This equates to a reduction of more than 35,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Conservation efforts have allowed us to re-profile $1.48 million in utility funding and we are projecting to reach $1.72 million by the end of 2014-15.

I look forward to building on this success by finding more opportunities to expand the use of renewable energy such as biomass for space heating of public infrastructure wherever feasible. Not only are we saving the government money, but we are supporting the development of a viable market for alternative energy in our territory that could help to lower energy costs for the private sector and homeowners. We are also helping reduce the NWT’s dependence on expensive diesel and reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions. Our focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy makes the GNWT a more effective and efficient government.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.