Looking back: Energy management in Alberta municipalities 2021

With all the new funding opportunities we’ve launched in the first few months of the year, we hadn’t really had a chance to look back on 2021 until recently. Now that we have had a breather, it’s time to reflect on the progress we’ve made.

While we saw big gains in solar electricity generation last year (download our 2021 Impact Report to see the more), energy management is where we made the biggest splash. Last year, we estimate that we helped create 108 energy efficiency jobs in Alberta! On top of which we added 23 Municipal Energy Managers whose salaries are funded (up to $80,000) by the MCCAC.

Experts on the ground

Municipal Energy Managers work full time with municipalities to identify and lead energy retrofits in municipally-owned properties. Experts like Cassie Kupsch and Devin LaFleche meet with facility staff to share energy saving practices and to develop energy management plans that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent or more.

Our energy managers often find themselves focusing first on recreation facilities. Arenas, swimming pools and sports fields are at the heart of many communities, and in some smaller towns they can be a significant chunk of their entire energy needs. The Recreation Energy Conservation (REC) program helps municipalities save money, keeping these facilities sustainable in the long run.

REC focuses on energy efficiency upgrades that are tried, tested and true, leveraging the incredible advances that have been made in technology over recent years.

We’re talking about replacing tired old fluorescent and high pressure sodium lights with bright, efficient LEDs. As Pass Powderkeg Ski Area found out, this not only saves energy, but the light quality is much better for skiers.

We’re also talking about high efficiency boilers like the two AFUE 95 units installed in Fort McMurray’s Casman Centre. Combined with new air handling units, thermostats and a building management system, the facility is now seeing savings of $1,700 a year. Including the MCCAC’s grant, the system will pay for itself in only five years.

Facilities that heat water for swimming pools and showers, like Grande Prairie’s Eastlink Centre, can see big efficiency gains from installing Combined Heat and Power units. These generate electricity using natural gas, with the waste heat recaptured and used to heat water. By installing two 333 kW CHP units in the Eastlink Centre, Grande Prairie is now saving $336,000 a year!

EV on ice

Arenas are also taking advantage of another MCCAC program to purchase electric powered ice resurfacers from Zamboni and Olympia. EV ice resurfacers save big on fuel costs and maintenance, plus they significantly improve indoor air quality. Slave Lake, Millet, Leduc, Innisfail and Brooks all purchased vehicles last year, which combines for a 23.4 tonne reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

We’re very proud of the work Alberta municipalities completed in 2021 to save energy and switch to low-carbon fuel sources. If you would like to do the same in 2022, visit our website to see what funding and capacity-building programs are available today.