On June 28, 2017, the federal Energy Efficiency Regulations, 2016 (New Regulations) came into force, repealing and replacing the original Energy Efficiency Regulations (Regulations). The New Regulations increase the energy efficiency standards for certain consumer and commercial products and take a step towards harmonizing Canada’s energy efficiency standards with those of the United States.

OVERVIEW OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY REGULATIONS IN CANADA

In Canada, energy efficiency is a matter that is of shared jurisdiction between the federal and the provincial governments. The federal government is responsible for regulating energy-consuming goods in the context of international and interprovincial trade, whereas the provincial governments have the jurisdiction to regulate energy efficiency standards within their borders. Hence, federal regulations apply to products that cross the Canadian border or a provincial border, and provincial regulations apply to products manufactured or sold intra-provincially.

Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have acted in their jurisdictional capacity and have enacted provincial energy efficiency regulations, which cover a broad range of prescribed products that vary from one province to another. Manitoba’s energy efficiency regulations are narrow and only regulate gas furnaces and boilers, whereas Saskatchewan, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island have yet to enact regulations that prescribe energy efficiency standards for consumer and commercial products.

BACKGROUND

The Regulations, enacted under the Energy Efficiency Act, were first introduced in 1995 with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and eliminating the least energy-efficient products from the market. They prescribed minimum energy performance standards (MEPS), in addition to reporting and labelling requirements, for certain categories of regulated products involved in interprovincial trade and importation.

In 2014, as an initiative of the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council, Natural Resources Canada and the U.S. Department of Energy set out the objective of aligning as between the countries new and updated energy efficiency standards and test methods. The New Regulations are at least the beginnings of Canada’s long-awaited response to this initiative.

KEY CHANGES

Below is a brief overview of some of the key changes under the New Regulation:

  • Increased Stringency of MEPS — The New Regulations increase the stringency of the MEPS in 20 categories of products (residential, commercial/industrial, lighting and other).

These products include appliances, central air conditioners and heat pumps, chillers, commercial refrigerators and freezers, electric motors, fluorescent lamp ballasts, general service fluorescent lamps, general service incandescent reflector lamps, ice-makers, packaged terminal air conditioners and heat pumps, refrigerated beverage vending machines, room air conditioners and gas-fired storage water heaters and oil-fired water heaters.

The stringency of MEPS of certain other regulated product categories, such as electronic products, is not affected by this change.

  • Scope of the Products Covered by the New Regulations — The New Regulations brought a minor modification to the scope of products covered. Specifically, regulatory requirements relating to “digital television adapters” have been repealed. These products are no longer subject to the New Regulations.

However, no additional product categories were added or removed as a result of the New Regulations.

  • Modernization of the New Regulations — The requirements of the New Regulations are presented in a clearer and more structured manner as compared to the Regulations. The various requirements such as MEPS, effective dates, test methods and energy performance reporting have been grouped into a particular subdivision for ease of use.

Furthermore, standards that are obsolete or no longer widely accepted as being the best way to test the energy efficiency of a product have been removed from the New Regulations and referenced standards have been updated.

  • Changes to the Scope of Standards or Content of Reporting Requirements — Finally, the New Regulations include minor modifications to the scope of standards or content of reporting requirements for certain product categories, either to adapt to new market developments or to reduce barriers to trade with the United States.

The following categories are impacted in some fashion by this change: electric ranges, exit signs, external power supplies, gas fireplaces, gas furnaces, general service lamps, large air conditioners and large heat pumps and televisions.

Parties that are conducting business in industries governed by the New Regulations should be familiar with the scope of the changes and the impact, if any, on their operations. Please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Blakes Environmental Law group for further information on how the changes might impact your business.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The New Regulations have brought federal energy efficiency requirements in Canada into better alignment with those in the United States.

In some cases, similar changes have been, or are planned to be, implemented at the provincial level. In particular, the Quebec government is in the process of updating its regulations concerning energy efficiency, which will notably expand the product coverage of the regulations. The Quebec regulations will enter into force on August 15, 2017.

Also, in Alberta, the Energy Efficiency Alberta Act (Alberta Act) came into force on October 27, 2016. The Alberta Act, which was enacted in accordance with the province’s Climate Leadership Plan, created Energy Efficiency Alberta, a governmental agency whose statutory mandate includes, for example, the promotion, design and delivery of programs and other activities related to energy efficiency, energy conservation and the development of micro‑generation and small-scale energy systems in Alberta (for more information, see our June 2016 Blakes Bulletin: Alberta Follows Through with Consumer, Small Business Aspects of Climate Leadership Plan, Passes New Act). The Energy Efficiency Advisory Panel appointed by the provincial government consulted with various stakeholders and aboriginal groups on the types of energy savings programs that should be implemented and the resulting report includes a number of recommendations. Through Energy Efficiency Alberta, a number of efficiency programs have been implemented, however, to date, no regulations have been published under the Alberta Act that mandate efficiency requirements.

In some cases, other provinces have programs to incentivize energy efficiency, however, it is unclear whether and when those provinces that are currently without any, or any significant mandated energy efficiency requirements for consumer and commercial products might follow in the footsteps of the federal government and other provinces to enact legislation in that regard.