Guelph Energy Efficiency Retrofit Strategy (GEERS)

 

About the GEERS program

As part of the GEERS program, Guelph homeowners will be encouraged to make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Participating homeowners will work with a contractor of their choice to make any number of possible retrofits, including:

  • Insulation
  • Windows
  • Weatherizing
  • Climate control devices
  • Furnaces
  • Air conditioners
  • Heat recovery systems
  • Solar panels
  • Electric Vehicle Charging stations (to be confirmed)

The upfront costs of the retrofits are paid through the pilot program, making the investment affordable for most homeowners. Homeowners then repay these costs over a period of up to 25-years at low interest rates through special monthly charges which are collected via their tax bill. These charges are known as Local Improvement Charges. If the home is sold before the cost of the retrofit is paid off, the new homeowner assumes responsibility for making the remaining payments.

GEERS participants benefit from the energy upgrades and related energy cost savings. The program also benefits the local economy by creating jobs for contractors and equipment suppliers, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

To be eligible, you:

  • need to live in Guelph
  • need to own your primary residence
  • can’t owe any money (i.e. arrears) on your municipal property taxes
  • are willing to obtain the agreement of your mortgage lender before finalizing the agreement to participate in the GEERS program
  • accept the terms of the program, and that there is no guarantee for the results of the energy efficiency improvements

If you would like to participate, contact Rob Kerr at 519-822-1260 extension 2079 or rob.kerr@guelph.ca.

Community survey results

A statistically significant telephone survey of 450 Guelph homeowners was conducted by Oraclepoll Research in March 2016. It provided public opinion on home energy retrofits and the GEERS program. The survey was developed by the City in partnership with the University of Guelph’s Community Engaged Scholarship Institute (CESI).

Here’s a short list of the key findings:

  • About 25 per cent of residents plan to make energy efficiency changes to their home over the next 24 months, with insulation upgrades and window and door renovations being the most commonly named upgrades.
  • 42 per cent of residents are likely to participate in the GEERS program over the next five to ten years.
  • Putting in place the GEERS program would make residents 22 per cent more likely to make energy upgrades to their home.
  • 43 per cent of residents said that this is not important if their monthly energy savings are greater than the cost of their retrofits, compared to 21 per cent who said it is important.
  • The likelihood to take part in a new energy retrofit program is based on how easy it is to access, program incentives and cost savings resulting from energy efficiency retrofits.
  • Cost and long pay-back periods were the two most commonly named barriers preventing residents from undertaking home energy retrofits.
  • Money trumps other reasons for energy efficiency retrofits. It is a bigger motivator than climate change, local energy security and home comfort.

Advisory groups

A community advisory group will be formed that consists of representatives from Union Gas, Guelph Hydro Electrical Systems Inc., University of Guelph and eMerge Guelph to provide ongoing advice and counsel on the GEERS program and its implementation.

Budget and financing

The cost of the pilot project will depend on the technology option(s) selected, and the number of program participants.

The cost will be presented to Council for consideration through the City’s 2017 budget process.

GEERS program costs will be fully recovered through monthly payments, called local improvement charges, made by participating homeowners. Local improvement charges allow the City to recover the costs of infrastructure improvements made on public or privately owned land from property owners who benefit from the improvement.

Timelines

The GEERS program will continue to be developed and refined through 2016. An update report will be provided to the Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise Services (IDE) Committee in October 2016. Program implementation will begin in 2017/2018, following budget approval.

History of GEERS

GEERS is a major component of the Community Energy Initiative (CEI). Adopted by Council in 2007, the CEI’s long-term goal is to reduce Guelph’s per-capita energy consumption by 50 per cent by 2031. Meeting this goal will require significant improvements in residential energy efficiency.

The full GEERS program was presented to Council on September 28, 2015. At that time Council asked staff to:

  1. Continue with the detailed design of the program, which includes establishing an advisory group, developing a financing structure, designing a business process using local improvement charges and investigating potential investors.
  2. Draft the necessary by-laws to allow the use of local improvement charges for energy retrofit projects.
  3. Report back to Council by early 2016, with a full report on program details.

In September 2015 staff proposed a rapid ramp-up to a full GEERS program. This direction was changed to a small scale pilot approach in May 2016 to allow for a low-risk test of the energy efficiency and cost-recovery capabilities of the program.

For more information

Rob Kerr, Manager, Community Energy
Business Development and Enterprise
519-822-1260 extension 2079
rob.kerr@guelph.ca