MISSISSAUGA, Ontario - The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) is again pressing the government for action on the ecoENERGY program. In the months before the federal election, HRAI led a coalition of associations and stakeholders in an effort to convince the government to re-introduce the ecoENERGY home retrofit program.

These efforts succeeded when funding for the program ($400 million) was included in the federal budget, which was tabled in March. When the budget failed to pass, leading to the recently concluded election, further federal action on this front was, not surprisingly, put on hold.

Rather than simply taking a wait-and-see approach to the matter, however, HRAI and the Save ecoENERGY Coalition decided to build on the initial success by preparing a briefing document and letter for the prime minister urging prompt action on this file shortly after taking office. The coalition felt confident in this approach, knowing that the leaders of all three major parties had pledged to renew support for ecoENERGY. The letter was designed to hold the new government to their promise and to urge that implementation not be delayed.

Four days after the Conservatives gained their majority victory in the election, the letter arrived on the desk of Prime Minister Harper. (The letter was copied to James Flaherty, Minister of Finance, Christian Paradis, Minister of Natural Resources, all leaders of federal parties and all Provincial Premiers.)

In a nutshell, the letter advocates for adoption of a three-step plan that builds towards a goal of enabling the marketplace to sustain ecoENERGY activity without the need for any ongoing federal grants within four years.

Step 1 is a four-year renewal of the federal ecoENERGY Home Retrofit program. Step 2 is a transition to a new (currently under development) EnerGuide rating system (ERS) for homes. Step 3 is the establishment of widespread (mandatory) ERS labeling of new and existing homes at time-of-sale.

This strategy suggests that a robust program of home energy evaluation and retrofit activity can be built during the four-year period, but it will need financial stimulus in the first few years.

The letter strongly recommends that the government renew ecoENERGY funding for a four-year interim period. This will provide the time and predictable conditions necessary to complete the three-step plan, thereby enabling the marketplace to sustain ecoENERGY activity without the need for any further federal home retrofit grants.

A copy of this letter and supporting material can be found at http://saveecoenergy.ca/three-step-plan-letter-toprime-minister-harper.

Publication date:06/27/2011