Impacts of Energy Planning

With good energy planning, Guelph can help to keep more money in its economy, generate opportunities for local savings and jobs, and help to manage risk from volatile energy prices and future climate policy. Using energy more efficiently and producing more energy locally also has a wide range of broader economic impacts that are more difficult to quantify. These impacts, adapted from QUEST are as follows:

Improving Residents' Health

There are direct—and economically significant—health costs associated with energy use in communities. Improvements to local energy use and production often lead to healthier neighbourhood design, transportation systems, natural environments, and housing.

For example, transportation system fuel switching and land use changes that promote active transportation can help to reduce the prevalence of obesity and cardiovascular issues through improved air quality—in particular, from reduced ozone and PM2.5 (fine particulate matter that can interfere profoundly with lung function).

Retain Local Businesses

Lowering local energy input costs encourages energy conservation and efficiency. It also promotes the use of renewable and alternative fuels, district energy, cogeneration, and new approaches to waste management. This changes the economics of production for the better and influences businesses to remain or relocate to Guelph.

Smart Urban Renewal

In redeveloping or renewing neighbourhoods, we have a unique opportunity to better integrate energy and land use. This can result in significant energy savings. Revitalization projects can create sustainable, liveable communities designed for smarter energy management. This includes improved public transit, active transportation infrastructure, building design, integration between land use and transportation, and distributed energy resources.

Innovative financing options can be at the forefront of neighbourhood revitalization. The River District neighbourhood development is in a former industrial area in Southeast Vancouver (also known as the East Fraser Lands). The neighbourhood developer owns and operates its own centralized district energy system, delivering hot water and space heating for all buildings in the development. This district energy utility model has not only provided increased autonomy for the development, but also stable financial returns for the developer (while providing affordable energy to residents).

Providing Clean, Reliable and Affordable Energy

Guelph can provide clean, reliable and affordable energy for high energy consuming businesses. Many of these companies want to work with local utilities to establish long-term clean power purchase agreements as well as wanting to shrink their environmental footprint. These businesses are considering multiple characteristics of local energy supply in choosing a business site location:

  • Affordable energy is important to all businesses, but particularly to businesses for whom energy constitutes a relatively large share of production inputs— 87 percent of Canadian business executives identify improving energy efficiency as a high or moderate priority for their business;
  • Reliable and stable energy supply is vital for companies that are big energy users, and for whom any interruption in energy supply is particularly costly (for example, industrial and manufacturing facilities); and
  • Reducing emissions—energy with relatively low pollution impacts—is a key factor for firms that want to lower their environmental footprint, often in consideration of corporate environmental stewardship initiatives.

Resilient Energy Systems

Having a resilient energy systems are an important element for Guelph's electrical system. The interruption or loss of energy supply from major natural disasters can leave wide areas without power for extended periods of time, including critical services such as hospitals, water pumping stations, and transit providers. This can create long term, negative economic impacts, as well as serious public health and safety risks.

  • In Calgary’s 2013 flood, 35,000 customers were without power for up to 8 days following the ooding due to extensive damage to the city’s electrical network. The ooding throughout Southern Alberta led to an estimated $4.7 billion in damages.
  • The Ontario ice storm in 2013, as with the Québec and Ontario ice storm in 1998, left millions without power for days in winter weather.

Distributed energy resources, such as combined heat and power, can provide standby power for critical services and emergency reception shelters.

Market Differentiation

Market preferences are shifting in favour of sustainability, as consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods and services. More energy-efficient spaces and buildings add value to projects that extend beyond energy cost savings. Energy utilities across Canada offer a range of incentive programs for implementing energy efficiency measures, which provide cost savings for project developers. But in addition, the measures in themselves provide considerable cost savings for tenants and owners, which along with other co-benefits of energy efficiency improvements can increase the liveability and desirability of a building.

Communities that support such improved building performance, for example through incentives for energy-efficient construction, can differentiate developments to appeal to sustainability-conscious consumers.

Housing Affordability

Energy costs are a major component of the operating expenses for a household and can impose a significant burden on low- income households. At the same time, affordable rental housing can be among the least energy-efficient buildings in Guelph.

Housing affordability can be supported through energy efficiency retro ts or energy efficiency codes in new housing stock. Efficient building envelope, lighting, appliances and heating systems will all lower a households’ energy costs over time, making housing more affordable and reducing energy poverty.

Land use patterns also influence household costs. High-density neighbourhoods with good public transit and active transportation can help to lower transport-related energy (and other living) costs.