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Oshawa sets up new fund for energy projects

Council recent approved the creation of a new reserve fund to save dollars for energy conservation projects in the future to help deal with the rising costs of electricity. Most recently, the city undertook a multimillion dollars project to retrofit the city’s streetlights with LED bulbs. (Photo courtesy of the City of Oshawa)

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

To plan for the city’s aging electrical infrastructure and obsolete equipment, council has approved the creation of a new fund to put money aside for needed investments down the road.

The Revolving Energy Fund will create a reserve fund to be used to subsidize new energy projects, energy audits, and to complete energy retrofit projects at city facilities.

“Energy projects and initiatives will continue to help the City of Oshawa enhance building systems and facility operations. These projects and initiatives will also help create a culture of energy efficiency in all facilities helping to reduce maintenance and energy costs,” the staff report reads.

According to numbers from the city, Oshawa’s electricity costs increased by approximately $2 million between 2007 and 2014. It’s a trend that is predicted to continue in the coming years and place increasing pressure on the city’s budget. As well, with the implementation of the provincial Cap and Trade program, the cost of natural gas is expected to rise as well, adding an estimated 8.7 per cent to the gas bill.

Moving forward the fund would draw dollars from two sources, including all energy efficiency grant money received, and 100 per cent of the utility and maintenance costs saved during the first year of a new project or retrofit

Staff also recommend annual withdrawals from the fund should not exceed 10 per cent of the available balance.

“With the added pressure of aging infrastructure that will require significant investment over the next several years, it is prudent to ensure that infrastructure upgrade projects consider energy conservation. Energy efficient upgrades will not only pay for themselves over time, but will also reduce maintenance costs and help the city in meeting its greenhouse gas (G.H.G.) emission targets,” the report reads.