Energy and Sustainability Framework Released
On Monday, March 14, 2022, the City of Regina released its Energy & Sustainability Framework, which outlines a dynamic and living plan for Regina to become a renewable, net-zero city by 2050, a target unanimously set by City Council in 2018. The Framework will be considered at a special meeting of Executive Committee on Thursday, March 24.
Ahead of the Executive Meeting, residents were invited to get a closer look at the Framework and engage with the experts who developed the plan at a virtual information session on Tuesday, March 15. A recording of this session is embedded below.
Following are responses to some additional questions asked during the March 15 information session that were not able to be answered in the time allotted.
Q. How will the Framework help oil, gas and refinery workers in making the transition? People in these sectors are likely to be most affected by this plan, so are there any specifics on how to help them?
A. The Framework sets out a pathway that has been tailored to our local context.
Regina has tremendous opportunity for new industry and employment in the transition to renewable energy and the green economy. Overall, implementation of the Framework is expected to generate over 120,000 person-years of employment between now and 2050. This is equivalent to more than 4,000 full-time jobs per year existing in the community.”
During implementation, it will be important to work with other levels of government to help give clarity to our workforce. Opportunities exist to collaborate on and support labour and training programs that can support workers in this transition.
Q. Does a net-zero goal mean the continued use of fossil fuels is acceptable if they are paired with emissions capturing technology or other offsets? Or is that negated by the 100% renewable goal?
A. To be a renewable, net-zero city means that all electrification, heating and cooling, and transportation are powered from renewable energy or are offset by a reduction in emissions to achieve a net-zero increase in carbon released into the atmosphere.
The Framework recognizes the phase-out of fossil fuels and sets out a community vision to plan for this transition through reducing our energy usage significantly as quickly as possible to avoid cumulative emissions, improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy generation. The City of Regina does not have the authority or jurisdiction to prohibit fossil fuels.
Q. Can SSG release details on the final energy mix in 2050? I understand it will be 45 PJ. What will the mix be in terms of electricity, hydrogen, etc?
Q. Can you tell me why the building sector was not invited to sit on the Community Advisory Group?
A. The Regina and Region Homebuilders Association was a member of the Community Advisory Group. We engaged with additional groups in the building sector through focus groups, public forums and our online tool.
Q. Is there any support from the Government of SK you would appreciate? Can the Min.of Env. help make sure the Framework is a success?
A. To ensure success of the Framework it will be very important to collaborate with other levels of government, including the Government of Saskatchewan.
Strategic partnerships with the Province can leverage additional funds and find efficiencies across clusters of related actions.
Q. Can you talk more about what does the balance of capital investment cost savings look like in tax implications over the next number of years?
A. The City will be assessing municipal contributions through its budget processes and Council resolution, based on priorities. In anticipation of the Framework’s release, the City made strategic investments of $6 million in 2022 to advance municipal actions on the “low-carbon pathway”.
The City’s focus is on the immediate actions we can take over the coming three years. How the actions are funded will be explored as the plan is implemented over the next 28 years. Implementation will include actively pursuing new funding opportunities, financing mechanisms and strategic partnerships that can leverage additional funds and find efficiencies multiple actions and based on data evidence.
Q. Is a ban on fossil fuels (such as natural gas for building heat) being considered as it has been in some other North American municipalities?
A. It would be outside the jurisdiction of the City to dictate what heating systems residents are able to use.
Q. What do the residential programs look like starting this year and over the next couple of years?
A. After a successful pilot, City Council has approved a citywide curbside food and yard waste service to be rolled out in fall 2023. Further information on this program can be found here.
Additionally, we will be presenting a home retrofit program that would be built on top of the federal Greener Homes Grant will be going before council later this year.
Q. How will this work and aligned City investments impact tax payers in terms of property taxes but also what is the cost to each resident to do their own investments that are noted in the big moves?
A. The City will be assessing municipal contributions through its budget processes and Council resolution, based on priorities. The upfront cost to each resident will depend on each unique situation, as will the amount of returns that are realized through the investments. The education and awareness campaign will include helping residents and businesses to identify actions they can take to support the big moves.
Q. How is the city going to encourage retrofits and fuel switching? Will there be subsidies in addition to the current federal plan?
A. There will be a need for innovation across the implementation of the framework. There are many efforts underway across Canada and beyond to undertake retrofits at scale by aggregating building retrofits, both for bulk procurement and to achieve efficiencies in project delivery, as well as developing deep retrofit programs for all buildings
Q. How quickly can new build regulations be changed to net zero?
A. The province is expected to adopt the Government of Canada’s net-zero energy-ready building code for new residential builds by 2030. In the meantime, initiatives to educate residents, businesses, and the buildings sector, as well as to incentivize net-zero energy-ready buildings could increase adoption and market demand.
Q. Is Regina looking at a similar initiative to Saskatoon landfill's Recovery Park?
A. The City will begin exploring the development of a permanent household hazardous waste depot at the landfill in 2022 to respond to increasing demand.
The City is also looking at offering more opportunities to divert problematic waste materials by establishing a diversion station at the landfill to accept items such as tires, construction material (untreated wood and gypsum), mattresses, etc.
Q. When might residents access information on the proposed retrofit programs?
A. The proposed retrofit program is built on top of the federal Greener Homes Grant and will be going before Council later this year.
Q. Culture is a very important in the UN 17 SGD's. Regina has a culture of being people powered innovative and hard working. This framework seems a bit boiler template. Can you tell me why culture of the City of Regina was not woven in?
A. The Framework requires sustained effort from the City of Regina, residents and all sectors of the community. The City will play a leadership role in modelling the changes and behaviours that are required to reach our goals through advocacy, partnership, awareness/education and direct action in municipal operations. This is an important milestone in our journey to become a renewable city, but this is a multi-decade process and there will be a need for innovation across the implementation of the framework.
Q. This weekend I saw a three year old Tesla advertised for $138,000. What incentives are there for me to move to an EV?
A. Other more affordable options for electric vehicles are available, and with the Government of Canada requiring 100% of car and passenger truck sales be zero-emission by 2035 the number of affordable options is only going to grow.
The City will also look to partner with potential stakeholders on the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations, which will help to eliminate one of the most significant barriers to local electric vehicle adoption.
Q. Instead of the city purchasing electric buses would it not be cheaper in the long run to purchase hydrogen fuel buses? With our winters the electric heaters on electric buses may drain the batteries too soon.
A. A variety of zero emissions vehicles were considered in the Regina Transportation Master Plan. Hydrogen requires an energy source to produce, also an assessment shows that hydrogen busses are more expensive to purchase and operate as it requires a hydrogen production facility.
Q. I noticed the framework says the U of R will be switching to geothermal - has that been committed by the U of R?
A. District energy systems offer an energy-efficient way to heat buildings that are grouped together. The University of Regina already has a district energy system in place. It has the potential to be fully converted to a renewable source such as geothermal. It is up to the University to make this decision but the City can play a supportive role.
Q. Are there modifications to this plan in the event of a Federal government change that may make changes to funding?
A. The Energy & Sustainability Framework is ambitious and requires sustained effort from the City of Regina, residents and all sectors of the community. Community leadership will be central to implementation, and the City of Regina is committed to expanding our community leadership role through advocacy, partnership, education and awareness. Key to implementing the framework will be continually monitoring and adapting the strategy as opportunities and barriers present themselves and new information becomes available. The City is actively exploring opportunities for leveraging that funding to make Energy & Sustainability related actions more affordable.
Q. Electric-powered Heat pumps form a major part of the Framework Big Move on energy fuel switch away from natural gas. Because of the increased cost for electicity, how do you encourage this move to happen? What good sources of information for cold climate heat pumps?
A. The methods to incentivize fuel switching will be determined in the future. The costs associated with electric heating and cooling will change dramatically when paired with rooftop solar or other residential energy generation.
Here are a couple of links for some more information on heat pumps.
Q. How much did this proposal cost taxpayers to get to the point we are now at?
A. $235,000 was budgeted for consulting related to development of the framework.
Q. Renewable energy, such wind and solar has a certain life span. How has this been taken into account?
A. For each of our actions, we do assess reinvestments (e.g. one person may purchase and replace an EV before the 2050 timeframe due to the projected lifecycle of the vehicle) but the lifespan of solar and wind investments recommended for this plan go beyond the projection period.
Q. I can see that education, awareness, and generally 'changing the culture' of the public will be a huge challenge. How will that be addressed?
A. Following the low-carbon pathway outlined in the Framework will require that we change how we move, live, and build. A big part of this mindset shift will be about making it easier for residents, businesses and industry to take climate action.
This can include reducing barriers to taking transit or to making our homes more energy efficient, raising awareness of programs and initiatives that are available, and collaborating with different sectors of our community to provide education about the long-term impacts of our decisions. So, when it comes time to make a decision - purchasing a vehicle, making improvements to our homes, starting a new business or social enterprise - we can be more aware of our emissions impact and how to make a positive contribution towards our community-wide targets.
Q. I understand that the City is not solely responsible for all the actions in the E&SF. However, can you confirm (as I understand from the Framework) that it is the City who will take the lead on ensuring the plan is followed, tracked and reported upon?
A. Ongoing monitoring and reporting on progress is a key piece of the overall implementation and coordination, which will be led by the City of Regina. Ensuring the plan is followed will require all sectors of the community to work together, and to adjust as conditions change and opportunities emerge. The City is also planning to continue with the Community Advisory Group with an updated mandate that focuses on implementing the plan across the community.
Q. Some community members have raised concern about the Treaty Land Acknowledgement at the front of the report?
A. We would like to thank the community member and in response, we are reviewing the land acknowledgement for its appropriateness and anticipate a revised land acknowledgement will accompany the final Framework document once approved.