In one of the most robust moves to address climate change in Canada, Ontario adopted its Cap-and-Trade Policy in January 2017. The province-wide legislation is designed to put ‘caps’ on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions Ontario’s businesses and homes can produce and emit. In order to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the cap is then lowered each year.
As part of the larger Climate Change Action Plan, which encourages the greening of a number sectors, the province expects the entire program will help Ontario lower emissions by 8 to 10 megatonnes by 2020.
While many have hailed the move as concrete action designed to tackle the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and their negative impact on the environment, the new regulations and tougher guidelines paired with higher energy costs have been especially trying for small and medium sized business owners.
In a January Globe & Mail article, it was reported that a growing number of mid-sized businesses in Ontario were beginning to face insurmountable energy costs as the province adopts a stricter stance on emissions and carbon footprints. Although the provincial government has established a number of rebate and incentive programs, medium sized business are often too small or unable to participate.
“Many medium-size manufacturers aren’t eligible for the province’s new hydro rebate because they use more than 250,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year and exceed a demand of 50 kilowatts,” notes the report. “And many also don’t qualify for the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI), an incentive program for larger electricity users with a monthly peak demand over one megawatt.”
Many business owners are extremely frustrated with constantly rising hydro rates on time-of-use prices, which have climbed by a staggering 81 percent since 2010.
While it may be difficult for small and mid-sized businesses to qualify for larger incentive programs, there are some rebate programs that can help ease the burden of rising energy costs and facilitate the greening of a business.
The Small Business Lighting incentive program provides qualifying business with up to $2,000 in rebates and incentives for switching old lighting fixtures with new energy efficient and environmentally friendly ones.
Similarly, the Retrofit Program also offers rebates and incentives for replacing dated lighting, however, it also covers operating systems, heating and cooling systems and other upgrades that contribute to the reduction of a business’ carbon footprint.
For small and medium size businesses looking to implement prolonged energy cost reduction, hiring an energy management firm may be the best option. Energy management firms are able to assess a business’ energy consumption and pinpoint ways to lower the costs associated with acquiring the energy needed to run a business.
Whether electric or natural gas, an energy management consultant is versed in the ever-changing energy landscape and is able to provide clients with several options aimed at meeting their needs. They can even help business identify the grants, incentive and rebate programs that would be most beneficial for their business.