WOODBRIDGE, Ontario - The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) announced that the HVAC Coalition of Ontario held its annual general meeting in Woodbridge, Ontario, in late November 2010. At the meeting, Martin Luymes of HRAI presented an outline of the coalition’s plan for tackling the emerging problem of electric utilities venturing into the HVAC business.

The coalition’s approach will include high-level discussions with the Ministry of Energy, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), the Electricity Distributors Association (EDA), and the Ontario Energy Association (OEA). According to HRAI, these discussions are necessary to register the industry’s willingness and even eagerness to assist in achieving the government’s mandate to pursue aggressive energy conservation targets, primarily through initiatives to be delivered by electric utilities. Where necessary and appropriate, the HVAC Coalition will be partnering on these efforts with the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO), which has addressed some of these issues already before the OEB.

According to HRAI, the position that needs to be presented is that the industry wants to partner in the development and delivery of these initiatives and does not want to see utilities dabbling in the HVAC (or electrical contracting) business where healthy competitive industries already exist, trying to achieve “conservation targets.” Luymes summarized this strategy as “cooperation where possible; confrontation where necessary.”

As an initial example of action at the local utility level, the coalition will be taking action to address the recent activities of Norfolk Power and its unregulated affiliate Norfolk Energy in southwestern Ontario. Initially confined to selling geothermal systems, the company recently started selling furnaces and air conditioning systems.

Luymes described the multi-pronged strategy of the coalition in this case as one intended to induce “shock and awe.” According to HRAI, “A win in this case will be important as it may well set a precedent for other utilities.”

The HVAC Coalition recently launched a new fundraising drive to help cover the costs associated with these efforts.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 800-267-2231, ext. 235, or e-mail mluymes@hrai.ca.

Publication date:02/21/2011