Tuesday, February 27, 2024

TIME – 9:30 a.m.

LOCATION – Winnipeg, Manitoba

CHAIRPERSON – MLA Mike Moyes (Riel)

VICE-CHAIRPERSON – MLA Robert Loiselle (St. Boniface)


Members of the committee present:

Hon. Min. Schmidt

MLAs Loiselle, Moroz, Moyes, Messrs. Nesbitt, Piwniuk


MLA Moroz for MLA Maloway
MLA Maloway for MLA Moroz at 11:18 a.m.


Obby Khan, MLA for Fort Whyte

Ms. Colleen Kuruluk, Chief Executive Officer, Efficiency Manitoba


Annual Report of Efficiency Manitoba for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023

* * *

Clerk Assistant (Ms. Katerina Tefft): Good morning. Will the Standing Committee on Crown Corporations please come to order.

      Before the committee can proceed with the busi­ness before it, it must elect a Chairperson.

      Are there any nominations?

MLA Robert Loiselle (St. Boniface): I'd like to nomi­nate MLA Moyes to the Chair.

Clerk Assistant: MLA Moyes has been nominated.

      Are there any other nominations?

      Hearing no other nominations, MLA Moyes, will you please take the Chair.

The Chairperson: I would–good morning.

Committee Substitution

The Chairperson: I would like to announce that there's going to be a substitution. MLA Mike Moroz will be substituting for MLA Jim Maloway.

* * *

The Chairperson: Our next item of business is the election of the Vice-Chairperson.

      Are there any nominations?

MLA Mike Moroz (River Heights): I'd like to nomi­nate MLA Loiselle.

The Chairperson: Are there any other–[interjection]–sorry. MLA Loiselle has been nominated. Are there any other nominations?

      Hearing no other nominations, MLA Loiselle is elected Vice-Chairperson.

      This meeting has been called to consider the Annual Report of Efficiency Manitoba for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023.

      Before I begin, I would like to remind everyone that the questions and comments must be put through the Chair.

      Are there any suggestions from the committee as to how long we should sit this morning?

An Honourable Member: Three hours?

The Chairperson: Mr. Nesbitt.

Mr. Greg Nesbitt (Riding Mountain): Sorry. Three hours?

The Chairperson: It has been suggested that we sit for three hours. Are there any other sug­ges­tions? [interjection] Sorry.

      Is that agreed upon by the com­mit­tee? [Agreed]

      It has been agreed by the com­mit­tee that we will sit for a total of three hours–[interjection]–and so ordered.

      Does the honourable minister wish to make an opening statement, and would they please introduce the officials in attendance?

Hon. Tracy Schmidt (Minister responsible for Efficiency Manitoba): Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and com­mit­tee members. It is my pleasure to be here with you today as we discuss Efficiency Manitoba's annual report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023.

      I'd like to thank everyone for being here today. And on behalf of our Manitoba gov­ern­ment, I'd like to start by honouring the sacredness and the importance of this land and of the ancestors that once walked here where we are sitting today, the Anishininewuk, the Cree, the Dene, the Dakota, the Métis, the Inuit and the Anishinaabeg nations, who lived on these lands that we now know as Manitoba, home to all treaty people.

      The reason we make this acknowl­edgement is to remind us of our treaty histories and the true history of these lands, the original homelands of those nations which we all now have the great privilege of calling home today.

      I'd like to welcome Colleen Kuruluk, the CEO of Efficiency Manitoba, and thank her for her excep­tional leadership and performance in that role.

      It's been an honour to serve as the Minister of Environ­ment and Climate Change and the Minister respon­si­ble for Efficiency Manitoba since October of last year. As we've settled into the role, it's been exciting to see just how much Efficiency Manitoba has accom­plished in pursuing their mandate of achieving long-term electricity and natural gas savings in our province.

      These programs and rebates they provide to homes and busi­nesses and com­mu­nities have made energy efficiency upgrades easier and more affordable for all Manitobans to pursue. That comes with many bene­fits, from improving energy affordability to mitigating the climate crisis that we are facing.

      An energy transition is imminent in Manitoba. In an effort to reduce our reliance–pardon me–on fossil fuels, we recog­nize that ad­di­tional demand will be placed on our electricity grid. This means prioritizing energy efficiency, and the work of Efficiency Manitoba is now more im­por­tant than ever.

      When we came into gov­ern­ment in October, we were elected on an ambitious and achievable mandate, and we know Efficiency Manitoba will play an inte­gral role in the transition away from fossil fuels here in Manitoba. Efficiency Manitoba has made sig­ni­fi­cant impacts already: from helping homeowners and busi­nesses to save money and reduce their carbon emis­sions, to reducing water usage and making the switch to energy efficient lighting and appliances, there have been so many positive advancements and achieve­ments already.

      The reality is, we quite simply have not done enough to meet our environmental, climate and efficiency targets, and although we've seen an uptake in pro­grams in this reporting period compared to the pre­vious year, we know there is even more in­cred­ible innovation and ingenuity to tap into to make our homes, com­mu­nities and energy sources more efficient.

      I want to commend the work of Efficiency Manitoba, which they've accom­plished since 2020, and in this most recent reporting year spe­cific­ally, despite a less-than-ambitious vision put forward by the previous gov­ern­ment during their mandate.

      And as we look ahead, our gov­ern­ment is serious about supporting Manitobans and their adoption of clean energy choices, helping them make im­por­tant green invest­ments into their homes and supporting the infra­structure to ensure we make the best use of our precious environ­mental resources for gen­era­tions to come.

      We will continue to work with industry leaders, com­mu­nity and the best science available to meet the tech­no­lo­gy needs of the moment and into the future. This work will be achieved by the expertise of the Efficiency Manitoba executive team, board and the staff.

      Efficiency Manitoba's results show their program partici­pation and incentive payments are increasing each year, and they are well positioned to meet the long-term legis­lated energy and saving targets and take on an in­creasingly im­por­tant role as we address the energy transition.

      Our gov­ern­ment looks forward to working with Efficiency Manitoba, and we are committed to sup­porting their efforts in helping Manitobans save energy, reduce their emissions and creating a sus­tain­able future for everyone who has the privilege of living and working here.

      Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

The Chairperson: Thank you, Minister Schmidt.

      Does the critic for the official op­posi­tion have an opening statement?

Mr. Nesbitt: I do.

The Chairperson: Please go ahead.

Mr. Nesbitt: Okay, good morning to everyone in the room here. Thank you very much for coming in this morning.

      And I want to thank the minister for her opening remarks and for intro­ducing the CEO of Efficiency Manitoba. We're certainly here today to discuss the 2022-23 annual report and learn more about Efficiency Manitoba's future plans as well, so.

      I'd like to intro­duce my colleagues here. I have Mr. Doyle Piwniuk, the MLA for Turtle Mountain, with me, and Mr. Obby Khan, the MLA for Fort Whyte.

      So, with that, I think we're ready to delve into the–

The Chairperson: Sorry, Mr. Nesbitt, I just want to remind you that we don't use first names at the com­mit­tee. Thank you. Go ahead.

Mr. Nesbitt: So, with that being said, then, I think we're ready to begin questioning.

The Chairperson: Thank you very much.

      Do the repre­sen­tatives from Efficiency Manitoba wish to make an opening statement?

Ms. Colleen Kuruluk (Chief Executive Officer, Efficiency Manitoba): Good morning. It's a pleasure to be here today to share how Efficiency Manitoba has progressed with its mandate of helping Manitobans save energy and money in the '22-23 fiscal year.

* (09:40)

      And first, I'd like to start by thanking Minister Schmidt for the land acknowledgement. At Efficiency Manitoba, land acknowledgements have become a regular practice of mindfulness, which has contributed to an organization where we all recognize our col­lective responsibility to uphold and strengthen the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, in the spirt of respect, remembrance and reconciliation.

      Before I start on my remarks, which will cover a select few highlights from our fiscal year ended March 31, 2023, I would like to mention that it was through a determined and focused attention to our man­date and vision that resulted in Efficiency Manitoba accomplishing a great deal in our short time in existence following our official commencement in 2020.

      These accomplishments would not have been pos­sible without the relentness commitment and passion demonstrated by employees for the work that we do. Behind the scenes, our talented team works tirelessly to ensure customer satisfaction remains paramount. From swiftly processing incentives to providing technical guidance, their efforts are instrumental in our organization's success.

      Our staff, comprised of industry experts, possess a remarkable ability to adapt and innovate, consistently enhancing our programs and offers to better serve our community. Their passion and expertise are the driving force behind our continued growth and impact, and we extend our heartfelt appreciation to each member of our team for their contributions.

      As we continue to invest in our programs and provide incentives to even more participating Manitobans, Manitoba businesses and communities, our total investments in energy efficiency have been increasing every year. In fact, we provided nearly $30 million in rebates to customers in '22-23, representing a 16 per cent increase over '21-22.

      And it's encouraging to see that Manitobans are 'increasently'–increasingly understanding the value of investing in energy efficiency. Contributing largely to this mindset, behavioural shifts and enabling action are Efficiency Manitoba's efforts to build awareness of the benefits of energy efficiency along with our diverse portfolio of over 40 programs and rebates to help Manitobans afford and make the choice to invest in energy savings upgrades.

      And our efforts are paying off. Brand awareness of Efficiency Manitoba was measured at 58 per cent in 2023, which is up from 33 per cent in 2020 and 53 per cent in 2022.

      Our 2022-23 energy savings results are published in our annual report supplement. The total electricity savings of the portfolio, accounting for all sectors that we serve, reached 83 per cent of our legislative target of 1.5 per cent, while portfolio natural gas savings were 91 per cent of our target of 0.75 per cent. These savings were achieved while expending 63 per cent of the overall budget, meaning that energy savings were achieved cost-effectively and in a fiscally responsible manner.

      It should be noted that The Efficiency Manitoba Act provides for annual shortfalls and surpluses in energy savings will be carried forward, in accordance with the cumulative 15-year savings targets.

      Part of our important work is continually assessing our portfolio programs and making adjustments to max­imize savings across all customer sectors. As a result, we launched five new offers in '22-23 fiscal year, including rebates on air source heat pumps and solar technology, financial and technical assistance for residential and commercial deep energy retrofits and in-suite appliance rebates for multi-unit residential buildings.

      We made enhancements to existing offers, in­cluding expanding the eligibility criteria for insulation upgrades via our Energy Efficiency Assistance Program and First Nation Insulation and Direct Install program, to encourage even greater participation.

      And, finally, we prioritized engaging in mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborating with other Manitobans as we built out our offers and reached more  homes, businesses and communities. And these included meeting with our Indigenous Energy Efficiency Working Group; focusing on our ongoing partnership with the Manitoba Métis Federation, which helps Red River Métis citizens access energy efficiency up­grades; working with Raven Indigenous Capital Partners via a community-driven outcomes model for the in­stal­lation of ground-source heat pumps in First Nations communities; and joining forces with neighbourhood renewal corporations to make energy efficiency accessible to their local residents.

      And a great example of one of our unique and successful offers is our Innovation Fund. We provide organizations with funding for pilot projects and partnerships to reduce common adoption barriers to emerging energy efficient technologies and strategies that can save electricity or natural gas. And as of the end of the '22-23 fiscal year, we committed funding to 11 projects valued at $1.8 million; and these projects, from the construction of a green com­mu­nity housing to the dev­elop­ment of a new composite roofing in­sulation system to eth­no-­cul­turally targeted energy efficiency edu­ca­tion pro­gram­ming across a variety of media channels.

      And these projects show that the creative and inspirational new ways in which Manitobans can, with extra support and encouragement, rise to the challenge of bringing innovation to life, which ultimately sup­ports Efficiency Manitoba's mandate of sig­ni­fi­cant long-term energy savings for our province.

      To aid in the dev­elop­ment of future programs, we initiated demand-side manage­ment market potential study in 2022. A range of market-achievable energy savings estimates for multiple tech­no­lo­gies across all customer segments formed the basis of the study and included an assessment of existing energy efficient tech­no­lo­gies and those that have a potential viability for the Manitoba market. Another benefit of this study was its integrated approach, and this is the first time an assessment of this type had been completed in the province.

      So, beyond the components spe­cific­ally com­pleted for Efficiency Manitoba on energy efficiency, fuel switching and renewable distributed gen­era­tion, the study included options for market potentials out­side of our mandate in the areas of electric vehicles, demand response and fuel switching to reduce green­house gas emissions from non-natural gas fossil fuels. Efficiency Manitoba partnered with both the Province and Manitoba Hydro, who had an–had interest in those ad­di­tional areas of study.

      The completion of the market potential study in August 2022, alongside our deep under­standing of the unique Manitoba market, will allow us to develop our next efficiency plan in a manner that's innovative, informed, robust and cost-effective.

      In her opening remarks, Minister Schmidt high­lighted an im­por­tant point that can't be overstated: the energy landscape is shifting in Manitoba to address the climate crisis. As interest in reducing emissions from building heating and trans­por­tation increases, Manitoba's electric grid will face ad­di­tional require­ments which will necessarily come at a cost to all Manitobans.

      Energy efficiency has–as the least-cost approach to managing energy needs–has always been im­por­tant, but it's even more im­por­tant now than ever before. As the energy transition progresses, Manitobans have an op­por­tun­ity to manage their con­sump­tion and make meaningful difference in how the impacts of our energy grid and the future infra­structure build-out require­ments.

      And beyond this future-oriented thinking, there are direct and imme­diate benefits from imple­men­ting energy efficiency: lower energy bills, improved home comfort, increased busi­ness competitiveness, training and em­ploy­ment for the many Manitobans and businesses who currently work or have the future op­por­tun­ity to work, alongside of us in getting energy efficiency into homes and busi­nesses across the province.

      And as we work this year to build our '25-28 ef­fi­ciency plan, we're excited to continue driving partici­pation, positive change and fostering an increased sense of respon­si­bility toward a more sus­tain­able and energy-conscious Manitoba.

      And, Mr. Chair, that concludes my opening remarks, and I welcome any questions that may be directed.

The Chairperson: Thank you very much.

      The floor is now open for questions.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you to the CEO for those opening comments.

      Could the CEO please tell us what Efficiency Manitoba's official mandate and goals were for '22-23?

Ms. Kuruluk: So our mandate for Efficiency Manitoba–was outlined in our Efficiency Manitoba Act–was to reduce energy con­sump­tion in natural gas and elec­tricity. It was to defer the infra­structure invest­ments that would need to be made by Manitoba Hydro. It was to pursue ad­di­tional savings beyond our savings targets if those savings could be deemed cost-effective. And it was to involve the private sector in delivering our efficiency programs.

Mr. Nesbitt: Have–and again, this is addressed to the CEO–have there been any discussions with the new gov­ern­ment about a new mandate for Efficiency Manitoba?

Ms. Kuruluk: So, Mr. Chair, so we obviously have been following the new gov­ern­ment as they have come into power and have definitely seen that they have an interest in refreshing what Efficiency Manitoba is doing, and I think that was made clear in Minister Schmidt's remarks that there's going to be an enhanced vision for Efficiency Manitoba, and we look forward to receiving that.

Mr. Nesbitt: This question's for the minister, then.

      In hearing from the CEO that there are changes being proposed here, are there any plans to update The Efficiency Manitoba Act to expand its–the Efficiency Manitoba's mandate, and, if so, what is the timeline for that?

* (09:50)

MLA Schmidt: We know it's the case that, in fact, Efficiency Manitoba has been seeking an expanded mandate, and our gov­ern­ment is prepared to act on that request.

      We are currently working with Efficiency Manitoba and our climate and green imple­men­ta­tion office to review the act. We understand that there are, you know, that there are some hindrances within the current regula­tory framework and we are, as I said, actively, you know, reviewing the regula­tions, the legis­lation and do have a plan to make some changes.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you to the minister.

      I'd like to ask the CEO to explain to the com­mit­tee how Efficiency Manitoba is funded.

Ms. Kuruluk: Per The Efficiency Manitoba Act, Efficiency Manitoba's operations are funded through Manitoba Hydro less any funding that we would get from any other sources.

Mr. Nesbitt: Does the federal gov­ern­ment contribute any funding to the operations and programs of Efficiency Manitoba?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, the federal gov­ern­ment through the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund approved an application that was made by the Province of Manitoba to fund half of our natural gas efficiency plan. So that was back in 2019, and I think the signing of that agree­ment occurred in about 2021.

      So, of course, a Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund is spe­cific­ally for greenhouse gas emissions reduc­­tion, so the funding was restricted to the gas component of our plan, given that electricity is largely GHG-free.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you for that answer.

      Can you tell me how–or tell the com­mit­tee–how much federal money came into the province here in the '22-23 fiscal year for Efficiency Manitoba?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, so, in 2023, we have a crude revenue of about $9.7 million that will be coming from the federal gov­ern­ment. And the process for receiving that funding is that the agree­ment was signed with the Province, so the Province receives it first and then remits it to Efficiency Manitoba, and then per our legis­lation, we remit that to Manitoba Hydro.

      And so the gas ratepayers that essentially paid in to the Low Carbon Economy Fund through the carbon charge are the ones that are narrowly receiving that benefit through that return to Manitoba Hydro gas ratepayers.

Mr. Doyle Piwniuk (Turtle Mountain): This is a question to the CEO.

      Regarding the efficiency–Energy Efficiency Advisory Group, who are the stake­holders involved and what are they advising Efficiency Manitoba to do?

Ms. Kuruluk: So, the Energy Efficiency Advisory Group is a legis­lated stake­holder group that has been working with Efficiency Manitoba since 2019; so they were instrumental in helping us form our very, very first efficiency plan that went through the Public Utilities Board hearing in late 2019 or early 2020.

      And the members of that–those groups that had been invited to attend were: Manitoba Keewatinook Okimakanak [phonetic]–MKO; SCO, Southern Chiefs Organi­zation; AMC; Association of Manitoba Munici­palities; the Manitoba Métis Federation; we had Green Action Centre; Manitoba Industrial Power Users Group; and then we had a Keystone Agri­cul­tural Producers; and then we had an ex-officio member, which was the expert advisory com­mit­tee for the Climate and Green Plan.

      And the input that those members would have given to us is, you know, different ideas on how we could enhance our plan to make sure that members of their com­mu­nities were seen in our plan and could access the plan.

      So, for example, Keystone Agri­cul­tural Producers had a hard time seeing where agri­cul­tural customers fit because we have resi­den­tial and com­mercial customers. And so, as a result of that input, we spe­cific­ally made a component of our plan that's addressing agri­cul­tural customers spe­cific­ally.

      So it ranged from basically how to reach com­mu­nity members to how to better enhance our programs or how–where to offer perhaps new programs.

Mr. Piwniuk: Mr. Chair, I just wanted to ask the CEO also, when it comes to the stake­holders, what direction does the cor­por­ation–should take based on their advisory to your–to the corporate–to the Efficiency Manitoba?

Ms. Kuruluk: Sorry, Mr. Chair. Can I ask the mem­ber opposite to repeat that question?

Mr. Piwniuk: Based on the stake­holders, the advisory com­mit­tee, what is the direction that Efficiency Manitoba should take, based on their recom­men­dations?

Ms. Kuruluk: Well, I guess I would say that, based on their recom­men­dations, we've imple­men­ting a–we are imple­men­ting a lot of the direction.

      You know, it–when it comes to how we reach their customer group, whether it's MKO or the Manitoba Métis Federation, for example, as a result of some of the infor­ma­tion that that–those members gave to us, we started the Métis Energy Efficiency Offers, for example. So we have an energy advocate that's–that we're funding that works for the Manitoba Métis Federation that's helping implement our programs within the Métis com­mu­nity. And that came as a result of direction from that parti­cular member.

Mr. Piwniuk: I just have a question for–Mr. Chair, I've got a question for the CEO.

      When it comes to Efficiency Manitoba's total invest­ment for last year's–for efficiencies last year, where was most of the investment put towards?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, so our expenditures, I would say the lion's share of our expenditures and–roughly on average for our efficiency plan was 65 per cent go directly to incentives to customers. So, that's a very large portion.

      We also have a percentage that goes to the pri­vate sector in terms of supporting our busi­ness. So Efficiency Manitoba has not esta­blished its own call centre, for example; we have that outsourced. We do not have an IT help desk de­part­ment. We outsource that.

      So I would say roughly 80 per cent of our–all of our expenditures are either going to the private sector through contracted services or through incentives to customers.

Mr. Piwniuk: I've just got–have another question for the CEO, Mr. Chair, regarding to last year's invest­ment or expenditures compared to last year for this fiscal year, and also comparing to the very first year of operations.

Ms. Kuruluk: So that required me going back a few more years than I was ready for, but I do have those–that information for you. So we were sitting at about $26.5 million in 2020-21, then rising to $39.9 million, and then this past fiscal year closed March 31, 2023, $47.8 million.

MLA Obby Khan (Fort Whyte): This question is directed to the CEO.

      Looking at the annual report '22-23, Efficiency Manitoba total electricity savings reached 83 per cent of their legis­lative target of 1.5, while natural gas savings reached 91 per cent of the legis­lative target of 0.75. Just curious if the CEO is content or happy with these savings achieved in the last annual report.

Ms. Kuruluk: Well, insofar that our targets did not reach our legis­lated target, certainly not content nor happy. You know, surprised? Probably not surprised.

      I mentioned the market potential study in my opening remarks, and what that market potential study told us was that electricity savings in Manitoba market are starting to decline in terms of op­por­tun­ity. So–and a lot of that is driven primarily from one tech­no­lo­gy, which is non-resi­den­tial lighting. So the non-resi­den­tial lighting op­por­tun­ity is largely disappearing at a rate faster than anyone predicted.

      And I would say that goes for a lot of utilities and energy efficiency providers in the US, as well. A recent report card that was released stated that that was one of the big challenges everyone was facing, is that the electricity savings are getting harder to achieve.

      But the market potential study did also give us a sightline into what could be possible, and we could actually achieve our legis­lated targets. It would require more invest­ment, but we can get there, and so that is our intent.

      We are, in our next efficiency plan that's going to be filed this year, we will be putting forward three levels of energy efficiency, so the scenario that's con­sistent with what we're offering today, as well as two more enhanced levels.

* (10:00)

      And so through a PUB review process where they will rigorously look at our cost effectiveness and what we're offering, there will be an op­por­tun­ity for inter­veners to sit in on that process and essentially the PUB will end up making a recom­men­dation to Minister Schmidt on what level of energy efficiency would–should be adopted in Manitoba.

MLA Khan: Thank you, CEO Kuruluk, for that answer. And I–the same question I will pose to the minister, when it comes to those savings.

MLA Schmidt: Yes, given the current regula­tory framework and the great work that Efficiency Manitoba has done since its inception, you know, to use sort of a turn of phrase, I think that Efficiency Manitoba has sort of picked the low-hanging fruit.

      And so given the current regula­tory framework and the fact that Efficiency Manitoba has been asking for a renewed mandate, an expanded mandate–some­thing that the previous gov­ern­ment failed to act upon–I think that with a renewed mandate and some changes to that regula­tory framework, I think that I have full con­fi­dence that Efficiency Manitoba, going into the future, will be able to hit those targets.

MLA Khan: I'm just curious; of the total budget that was allotted to Efficiency Manitoba, can the CEO comment on how much of the budget was actually expended to reach these energy savings?

Ms. Kuruluk: So in the last fiscal period, we were able to reach those energy savings that were pre­viously stated at roughly 63 per cent of our budget.

MLA Khan: And–I mean, I want to commend the CEO for that. And 63 per cent of the budget and achieving 83 per cent of their target and 91 per cent of their gas-savings target, I think, is a pretty good accom­plish­ment for only expending 63 per cent. So hats–you know, hat off to you and your team at Efficiency Manitoba for achieving that in the last annual report.

      I guess the question, then, just begs with the other 37 per cent; is there a reason why that other 37 per cent of the overall $72 million wasn't spent to achieve those targets?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, so as I mentioned earlier, in­centives are roughly 65 per cent of our budget. So if we don't get all the partici­pation we want in energy savings, that has a really big impact on our actual budget and–expended.

      And one of the im­por­tant things to note: When we first esta­blished our budget in 2019, we were a team of five people and we were budgeting for a Crown cor­por­ation that didn't exist. So, you know, it's–actually was a, quite a challenging thing to do. We didn't even know exactly spe­cific­ally what employees we would have at that time.

      So definitely challenging to budget for something that, you know, you're starting from scratch. But really I think when we start getting more incentives into the hands of customers, we'll be hitting closer to our budget.

MLA Khan: Yes and again, you know, thank you very much to the CEO for those comments, Mr. Chair. And I think again, you know, when you commented on a few years back it was just five of you, started this off under the previous gov­ern­ment that saw a need for Efficiency Manitoba to be created. So I think you've come a long way, and–you and your team and the organi­zation–on accomplishing those. And, you know, we look forward to hitting the 100 per cent of the targets as you go forward with that expanded mandate.

      I'd just, and I had follow-up question on: Does the CEO have a number on how much money was saved, given the electricity savings and that gas savings, rough ballpark figure, if they could quantify that for us here today?

Ms. Kuruluk: Would the member opposite be happy with sig­ni­fi­cant bill savings? We'll get you that num­ber. It's in the millions; it's sig­ni­fi­cant.

      And I mean, what I will say is, you know, in a time–especially now, with affordability being so im­por­tant for both resi­den­tial customers and busi­ness customers alike, yes, the bill savings are sig­ni­fi­cant. I'll get you and put on the record the exact numbers.

MLA Khan: I was just going to say, sorry, that was a bit of a rabbit-trail question.

      So yes, if the–Mr. Chair, if the CEO can maybe–a two-week timeline, if that's reasonable, to come back to com­mit­tee and present us with those figures; unless, looks like they may have them now. Amazing.

Ms. Kuruluk: Okay, so for the 2022-2023 fiscal period, the customer bill savings were $11.5 million in electric and $2.7 million in both natural gas and the federal carbon charge.

Mr. Nesbitt: I'd like to ask the CEO about the Efficiency Manitoba's programs: how they're proposed, studied and imple­mented.

Ms. Kuruluk: So, thank you for that question.

      That can–we could either go into a really, really, really deep dive on that and talk about the energy savings profile of a specific electric tech­no­lo­gy and how we get value for those energy savings at different times of day and different periods of the year, but maybe I'll start with–you know, the known tech­no­lo­gies for energy efficiency are–we know that they exist. There's nothing out there that we're not aware of. So, typically, what we would do is we would look at the channel that delivers that tech­no­lo­gy to the market first and foremost.

      So if you're going to be looking at an air source heat pump, we would talk to the air source heat pump installers to find out how do those things get installed today, what are the challenges in them selling air source heat pumps over an electric furnace and, basically, we look to eliminate the barriers through all aspects of a marketing strategy, whether it's, you know, capital cost being the primary example of why energy efficiency may not be pursued, lack of knowledge and awareness from customers about the energy efficient tech­no­lo­gy, and one of the more challenging ones is capacity to deliver.

      So that one, you know, is probably not some­thing that is seen often in our advertising and promotion, but if there are not a lot of installers for air source heat pumps, for example, we would work to try and build that capacity in a market.

      And so a really good example of that was, you know, energy modelling is a–it's a service that cus­tomers can use, typically through an engining–engineering firm. And back 10 years ago, energy modelling wasn't a profession that was very easy to find in Manitoba.

      So, as a design idea, we put an incentive towards an energy model, which then encouraged engineering firms to have energy 'modellier'–modellers on staff so that they could pursue the energy model, because doing an energy model to build a new building or design a new building is going to net you more savings than looking at it prescriptively through different tech­no­lo­gies.

      So that's an example of different ways that we can design a program that impact different barriers that are maybe not as apparent as the initial capital cost barrier.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you very much for that answer.

      What has been the uptake for Efficiency Manitoba's new program launches over the '22-23 fiscal year?

Ms. Kuruluk: So I'll have to–I'll give you an anec­dotal answer, and I would under­take to get you more specifics, but air source heat pumps was one of the new tech­no­lo­gies that we offered, and I think that there was roughly a doubling from the year it was launched to this past year.

      And I know with windows and doors, the number is a number I've seen, and it's somewhere in the neigh­bourhood of 192 per cent increase. I'll have the good folks behind me correct me if it's off, which it pro­bably will be. [interjection] Oh, a 197–sorry–197 per cent increase on windows and doors.

      So, definitely, you know, as we've been out in the market advertising more. The year of the pandemic is–was our official com­mence­ment, so 2020 was a tough period of time for us to be coming out and celebrating our arrival.

* (10:10)

      And so the first few years were, I would say, relatively quiet for our advertising. I mean, we couldn't get into homes and busi­nesses, or our contractors couldn't get in to homes and busi­nesses, and people were most certainly preoccupied with other things than how energy efficient they were.

      So, in those previous years, partici­pation was lower than what we expected, but in this past year has been our best year yet in terms of partici­pation.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you very much for that answer.

      Of Efficiency Manitoba's 40 programs, which five have the most uptake, and which five programs have the least uptake by consumers or busi­nesses here in Manitoba?

The Chairperson: Ms. Kuruluk, go ahead.

Ms. Kuruluk: So, just wanted to clarify that question, whether uptake meant number of parti­ci­pants or volume of savings, and would it be the resi­den­tial market or the com­mercial market? It kind of makes a difference.

Mr. Nesbitt: Could the CEO maybe elaborate on all those points for clari­fi­ca­tion for the com­mit­tee here?

Ms. Kuruluk: I'll give it a go.

      So, resi­den­tial pro­grams, by nature of how many resi­den­tial customers we have, typically have the most parti­ci­pants. So I would say windows and doors–excuse me–windows and doors, insulation and our Energy Efficiency Assist­ance Program have seen a lot of–oh, thank you–tre­men­dous uptake.

      We also get, by pure number of parti­ci­pants, a lot of uptake in our retail rebate campaign. So we're talk­ing in the hundreds of thousands when we do our retail rebate campaign. So you can see there's a pretty wide range of, when you ask purely by partici­pation, a pretty wide range.

      Some of our lower partici­pating programs would be ones that are typically more involved energy effi­ciency retrofits. So, deep energy retrofits, like trying to find customers that are ready to retrofit their entire house, you know, typically from the studs outward. It's harder to find those participants, but they net more savings for that project.

      Equally, you know, now, unfor­tunately, geo­thermal heat pumps are a tech­no­lo­gy that's, you know, more costly and more complex, so we have fairly low take-up at this point in geothermal heat pumps as well.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you very much for that answer.

      Is Efficiency Manitoba con­sid­ering winding down any programs due to a lack of uptake by consumers or busi­nesses?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, that's a good question, and as, you know, as much as we need every–a program for al­most every tech­no­lo­gy in order to reach our savings, there are some that simply become more effort with our limited staff that we have than what they're worth, and so one such program, I know, that was just wound down this past December, I believe, was our pool pump program.

      So not a huge amount of Manitobans have pools, and so pool pumps are a program where we are not going to get a lot of participation by necessity that people don't have pools, but that, you know, the effort to still run the program analysis, market the program, bring in the customers, process the incentives, takes time. And so that one was wound down.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you, again, for that answer.

      Is Efficiency Manitoba con­sid­ering expanding eli­gi­bil­ity of any programs? And I guess, you know, as an MLA, I've got a lot of questions over the past few years on why just people's initial home–or their home is the only thing eligible and not cottages, because they're looking for energy efficiency wherever they might be in Manitoba, whether they have a cottage at the lake or whatever.

      And I understand that perhaps Efficiency Manitoba's mandate is just primary residences, but I'm wondering if there's any thoughts of expanding that to all facilities owned by consumers or busi­nesses here in Manitoba.

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, that's a fantastic question, and one that we've received for a very long time.

      And the quick answer is cost effectiveness. And so we still have a mandate to be cost effective. And so typically with a cottage owner, you're in your cottage for less time than your primary residence and so that's literally what it comes down to.

      However, Efficiency Manitoba, in an effort to be, you know, making sure that our customers are well served with our programs, have been looking at instances where if the cottage is operated year round–so it's a winter heated cottage or they are trying retrofit their cottage for it to be their eventual home–we've been looking at ways that we can still fit them into our programs.

      And that's a big difference that we have as a small Crown cor­por­ation with a focused mandate on achieving energy efficiency, is that we can make, sort of, those kind of adaptations. And sometimes it'll be as simple as a per customer basis; but we are looking at, you know, if we were to roll out an offer that might be applicable to cottages, would we do that at a pro-rated incentive, you know, to make sure that we're still balancing the cost effectiveness because typically the savings won't be as high in a building that's only used part time.

Mr. Piwniuk: Mr. Chair, I just wanted a–question for the CEO. When it comes to, let's say, the 276 megawatts of hours of electricity savings for Manitoba, I know in the–our past–the past gov­ern­ment, we were able to attract outside invest­ment, especially when it came to Roquette; which, Roquette and Simplot, just in that one quarter section of land, created an invest­ment of $1.4 billion. It also created many jobs and the econ­omy in Portage to really thrive.

      And that's just one part of one com­mu­nity. But when it comes to the amount of savings, what does it equate to when it comes to the amount of more elec­tricity there is for, let's say, companies that want to come to Manitoba to invest, to do busi­ness because the fact is, it's green energy, it's im­por­tant that we focus on that. How much savings would there be to get those companies to come in here? What does it equate to?

Ms. Kuruluk: So what I can say is that the two pro­jects that you mentioned definitely had energy effi­ciency added to the proposal to bring those customers to Manitoba. And, obviously, I'm not sure if divulging incentives would–or, divulging customers we're working with now would probably be ap­pro­priate; I think most are under NDA.

      But you are right. There's no question that energy efficiency and making sure that those companies, when they do get esta­blished here, are being as energy effi­cient as possible because as we all know, we are facing some constraints, and in parti­cular, in some of the areas that you mentioned, areas of the province that you mentioned.

      So we are part of a overall team that helps to make the case to site in Manitoba. Green energy, inexpensive electricity is certainly a big driver. But there's no ques­tion that our add to the proposal has oftentimes been a really helpful add to make sure that customers choose Manitoba.

Mr. Piwniuk: Another question for the CEO, Mr. Chair.

      When it comes to the amount of, like, the savings, like when it comes to 276 gigawatts of savings, what is that equivalent to, let's say, when it comes to the amount of houses now that can–and I'm sure you have probably a number there–that would be savings for, when we can now heat more homes, especially with the growing economy, more houses being built through­­out the province.

* (10:20)

Ms. Kuruluk: So we have the number for what we are planning. So for 335 gigawatt hours–so, I guess you can take my number with–in a–with a plus, or I guess a minus–but is approximately equivalent to disconnecting over 150 big box stores per year in Manitoba.

      And on the gas side, the–we have 12 million meters cubed per year, and that's about the equivalent of disconnecting 70 big box stores heated with natural gas, obviously.

Mr. Piwniuk: Mr. Chair, I've got another question for the CEO. When it comes to, like, when it comes to mandates when it comes to energy efficiencies, what about also efficiencies when it comes to water con­ser­va­tion? Is that kind of in the mandate?

      I was looking at every kind of resource that we have that we can do efficient–can we–shouldn't Manitoba actually look at that possi­bility for savings when it comes to the water supply that we have here in Manitoba?

Ms. Kuruluk: So many of our–or, a few of our tech­no­lo­gies actually save hot water, and so that has an energy component and the water component. So we do impact some water con­ser­va­tion. It's not currently our mandate to save straight water.

      And, again, you know, Manitoba Hydro is paying for Efficiency Manitoba based on the value that they get from the saved kilowatt hour and the saved meter cube of natural gas. And so that would be an ask of ratepayers to be assisting with water con­ser­va­tion that's not heated so it doesn't have an energy com­ponent to it. So we would have to likely look at another source of funding.

      But we would absolutely be capable of doing that, and it's very close–you know, influencing customers' purchasing decisions, whether it's energy con­ser­va­tion or water con­ser­va­tion, certainly in our wheel­house, but it would have to be a mandate expansion.

Mr. Piwniuk: I just want–a question again for the CEO. When I was in gov­ern­ment, we actually–we were on economic dev­elop­ment com­mit­tee of Cabinet, and we also attracted many interests when it comes to invest­ment companies that want to look at Manitoba as a destination.

      How much infor­ma­tion do you get and how much do you actually have a con­ver­sa­tion with any potential investors that want to come to Manitoba to do business, to attract, and how much does your organi­zation actually do–actually com­muni­cate with poten­tial investors?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, and that's–it's a timely question, because I was just made aware of one that's happening this week.

      So we are not–Efficiency Manitoba wouldn't be the point of entry for these con­ver­sa­tions. Obviously, we'd be looking at the Economic Dev­elop­ment branch in gov­ern­ment, Yes! Winnipeg, CentrePort, and we work closely with those organi­zations, and we are brought to the table when potential economic dev­elop­ment op­por­tun­ities are facing Manitoba. We aren't a point of entry, but we're definitely involved in the con­ver­sa­tion and actually keeping us rather busy right now.

MLA Khan: You know, I want to get back to–I don't think we gave enough due to the hard work and the success that Efficiency Manitoba has had over the–just a few years since inception to now, so, you know, I want to again commend the CEO and her staff–$14.2 million in savings in just this last annual report.

      And I believe the CEO did mention that they had started with five staff. Can maybe the CEO comment, Mr. Chair, on what the current staffing levels are at Efficiency Manitoba?

Ms. Kuruluk: As at the end of this fiscal, March 31, 2023, we are at 72 FTEs.

MLA Khan: Sorry, Mr. Chair, was that 7 or 17? Sorry.

Ms. Kuruluk: Seventy-two.

      So our efficiency plan stated a complement of 75 FTEs, and definitely has been a very, very busy time for our HR person in onboarding or helping to onboard several employees. We transferred roughly 42 people from Efficiency–or, from Manitoba Hydro Power Smart and the rest were new hires. So it's been a very busy couple of years.

MLA Khan: And, wow, $14.2 million in savings, and now you've got it staffed to 72. Just commendable work that you and everyone there has done in just growing from five people to 72.

      Now I would assume the answer to this question is a fairly simple one, but I'll ask it anyways. Given the success and the trajectory that Efficiency Manitoba has had in the past few years, and in the foreseeable future, would the CEO comment on, since the incep­tion of Efficiency Manitoba, if they would deem this as a suc­cess­ful start to Efficiency Manitoba.

Ms. Kuruluk: The quick answer is yes. I feel very, very proud of what we've built. It was no small feat. There was no manual for starting a Crown cor­por­ation in Manitoba, I can tell you that. So, yes.

      And I mentioned it in my opening remarks, and to the people in this room, a lot of tre­men­dous hard work, long hours to both bring an efficiency plan through a Public Utilities Board regula­tory hearing, but also create and esta­blish a Crown cor­por­ation.

      And so, you know, one of the highlights and one of the really big tasks that we had to do when we first started was to build the system for our organi­zation. So we've built a customer relationship manage­ment, demand-side manage­ment system to go completely paperless for all of our customers. And that houses all of our savings data so that our external evaluator can access that system and pull the infor­ma­tion they need to do their evaluation.

      But it also speaks through to our accounting sys­tem so that payments go through the–to the accounts payable folks in a seamless way. And we've had really great reviews from the contractors that are con­sist­ently using our portal to import and input their customers' applications.

      And yes, it–that was, you know, one of the first things I handed over to my vice-president of effi­ciency programs–over my left shoulder here–is we need to build a better system, because in–at Manitoba Hydro Power Smart, the databases were all separate and every­thing was on paper, so for the IT folks in the room, it was, the conceptual data model of what we had and what we built is drastically different, so.

MLA Khan: Thank you, CEO, for that answer. And yes, I think it has been extremely suc­cess­ful for you and your team, and we all recog­nize that we are only as strong as our team, so for you to, you know, constantly acknowl­edge your team is a great sign of leadership on your behalf and the great team you have.

      I'll pose the same question for the minister. Does the minister, in her opinion, believe that since the inception of Efficiency Manitoba to where they are today has been a success story and will continue to grow with–given that the minister does mention that they want to expand the mandate.

MLA Schmidt: Thank you for the question. I will echo Ms. Kuruluk's comments.

      I think that Efficiency Manitoba has been a suc­cess story, especially when you consider some of the challenges that it–they ex­per­ienced being stood up in 2020, the year of the pandemic. There were sig­ni­fi­cant challenges in that regard.

      But we have seen continued progress year over year, and again, with a renewed and refreshed man­date, I have no doubt that Efficiency Manitoba will continue to expand and grow on that great work.

MLA Khan: I want to thank the minister for those comments and recog­nize efficient Manitoba. So I just want to, just for the record, so the minister will commit to maintaining the good work, of course, that Efficiency Manitoba is doing for now and the fore­seeable future?

MLA Schmidt: I'm not sure if I–Mr. Chair, I'm not sure if I completely understand the question.

      Yes, Efficiency Manitoba will continue to oper­ate, and we will continue to support their operation.

MLA Khan: It was a very simple one. You would answer–just train of thought here. So yes, is–you already answered that, so that's great to hear.

      Now, the troubling thing, Mr. Chair, I guess a com­­ment I have for the minister is, you know, the minister has said today they're going to commit to expanding on the work that, the great work Efficiency Manitoba is doing and has done and will continue to do, but her colleagues and the Premier (Mr. Kinew) of this pro­vince himself is quoted as saying it's probably more rightly called inefficiency Manitoba.

      So I'd just like to get maybe some clari­fi­ca­tion, comments from the minister, as the minister is com­mitting today to expand and continue to work with Efficiency Manitoba, and yet her Premier, or her leader, the Premier of the province is on the record of saying, more rightly called inefficiency Manitoba.

The Chairperson: MLA Khan, I would ask that you would tie your question into the annual report of Efficiency Manitoba.

* (10:30)

MLA Khan: Sure, thank you very much, Mr. Chair. And that question is directly tied into the success and performance that Efficiency Manitoba has had in this annual report.

      So, basing that question on the performance and success of the '22-23 annual report, I think it is incum­bent and im­por­tant for Manitobans to understand where this minister and this gov­ern­ment want to go forward with Efficiency Manitoba when the Premier is contradicting exactly what the minister has doubled down on today.

MLA Schmidt: As I stated earlier, I think Efficiency Manitoba has been doing a great job. I think that there is certainly room to grow. I think that, as we've noted, you know, the annual budgets have not been spent.

      I would argue that, you know, the previous gov­ern­ment failed to act on Efficiency Manitoba's con­tinued requests for a renewed and refreshed mandate, an expanded mandate. And we are looking forward and we are committed to making sure that Efficiency Manitoba continues their good work and operates in the best interests of Manitobans. 

MLA Khan: And, again, getting back to their annual report, when we look at the energy savings of 83 per cent in electricity, 91 per cent of natural gas, for savings of over $14.2 million, we do see that the Efficiency Manitoba is doing some great work there. And the minister has said that they will continue to support that based on this annual report and going forward.

      I guess the question here for Manitobans and the question for the com­mit­tee today is the mixed mes­saging that we're hearing from the minister and the current–now Premier, and I'll quote the leader of the op­posi­tion at the time had stated, quote: So will the premier cancel this experiment with Efficiency Manitobainefficiency Manitoba, rather–and commit to renewing programs that help Manitobans reduce their carbon footprints? End quote.

       So the question, Mr. Chair, is simply for the mini­­ster. Is the minister saying that they are in contradic­tion to what the Premier has stated on the record?

The Chairperson: The Premier's comments are not in the annual report, and I'm going to ask the member to once again tie their questions to the annual report.

MLA Khan: Mr. Chair, I ap­pre­ciate that and apologize for getting off track with the annual report.

      So I guess the question in regards to the annual report is, again, just to be clear one more time for the record, that the minister today will commit to sup­porting Efficiency Manitoba and continue the great work they are doing.

The Chairperson: MLA Schmidt–or, sorry–Minister Schmidt.

MLA Schmidt: Efficiency Manitoba was set up to save Manitobans money, to reduce the strain on our grid. I think that they've been doing that. I think, under the previous admin­is­tra­tion, there was certainly some op­por­tun­ities that were missed.

      Manitobans elected a new gov­ern­ment in October and our gov­ern­ment is committed to helping Efficiency Manitoba see their full potential.

Mr. Nesbitt: Mr. Chair, I'd like to defer to Mr. Khan.

MLA Khan: Sorry, I've been using the vague–this is from the CEO here. I've been using the vague, a few years back.

      When did Efficiency Manitoba first start up, if the CEO has a recollection of that?

Ms. Kuruluk: The Efficiency Manitoba board, I believe, started in May of 2018. Myself, as the first CEO, started in January of 2019. And the efficiency plan, the com­mence­ment date of our actual three-year efficiency plan was April 1, 2020.

MLA Khan: So, '20–and this is the third annual report for Efficiency Manitoba, Mr. Chair? Or, to the CEO, sorry.

Ms. Kuruluk: Technically, it's the fourth. We did do an annual report in 2019-2020 as well. Obviously, we didn't have any efficiency programs at that time so it focussed more so on the start-up of the organi­zation.

MLA Khan: In regards to the annual report, so is the CEO aware of any Efficiency Manitoba, I guess since its inception in 2018, were there any programs in existence prior to that?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, there would have been several programs that were in existence prior to 2018. There was a very distinct interest in making sure that there was continuity in the programs that were being delivered to Manitobans by Manitoban busi­nesses.

      So one of the concerns that we heard right away was with the esta­blish­ment of Efficiency Manitoba, you know, we don't want to lose the programs, nor do we want to pause the programs that many busi­nesses, you know, use as a foundation for the work that they do. So many programs were transferred over, and many programs were created new as well.

MLA Khan: Thank you–I want to thank the CEO for just clarifying the back­ground and the history of how, you know, I guess efficiency in the province of Manitoba was done before. It sounds like before it was done in a bunch of different, maybe, independents, or busi­nesses or separate organi­zations doing it then. It was under the previous gov­ern­ment in 2018, in 2019, that it came together to form Efficiency Manitoba with the act, and this is the fourth annual report.

      So, I believe–is that the quick 'summize' of the history of how the, I guess, the inception of Efficiency Manitoba came to be, then, under the previous gov­ern­ment?

Ms. Kuruluk: The only thing I would correct from that record was that efficiency programs were not being delivered by several entities; it was being delivered by Manitoba Hydro under the Power Smart brand.

MLA Khan: Awesome. Thanks for clarifying that for the record, to the CEO, that it was under the previous gov­ern­ment that it was formed from Manitoba Hydro to form Efficiency Manitoba, which the great work it's doing today. So I just want to thank the CEO for that clari­fi­ca­tion.

The Chairperson: Ms. Kuruluk, would you like to respond?

Ms. Kuruluk: Thank you for those accolades.

Mr. Nesbitt: I'd like to talk about heat pumps. I would like to know a little bit about heat pumps, what the differences are between air source and ground source, and how heat pumps and geothermal seem to be used interchangeably sometimes. I'd just like an explana­tion to the com­mit­tee of those two terms and what they mean to Efficiency Manitoba.

Ms. Kuruluk: Another topic that we could go very deep on. But I'll start at the high level and see if that satisfies your question.

      A geothermal heat pump is a more efficient way of heating your home electrically. And essentially what a geothermal heat pump does is it takes heat that exists in the ground and transfers that into the home. And loops are buried in the ground that pull that heat from the ground to sup­ple­ment the heat in your home. And so they can be roughly 60 per cent more efficient than an electric resistance furnace.

      So air source heat pumps, on the other hand, take the heat that's in the air. Which seems funny because, you know, right now on a day like today, people would say there's no heat in the air. But it does take heat from the air and brings that into your home.

      And so an air source heat pump will save roughly 30 per cent, and typically in Manitoba in particular, an air source heat pump will need some form of backup heating system for the very coldest days.

      So now with the programs that we have, geo­thermal heat pumps will typically cost a little bit more because there is trenching that's required, or horizontal drilling to put the loops in the ground, whereas air source heat pumps can–every­thing can be done above ground.

      Does that cover the member's question, or should we go deeper?

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you very much for that answer; that certainly describes the difference between the two. And I think that that ties it back into what geothermal is; the heat pumps are the geothermal.

      So what kind of uptake and partici­pation has Efficiency Manitoba seen in–I guess in both sources of heat pumps over the past fiscal year?

Ms. Kuruluk: Okay so, Mr. Chair, so for partici­pation in ground-source heat pumps, we've had 15 in the past year, for '22-23, on geothermal, and 33 on air source heat pumps.

* (10:40)

Mr. Nesbitt: Would it be fair to say that perhaps air source heat pumps might be utilized more in dense popu­la­tion areas like a city compared to ground source heat pumps?

Ms. Kuruluk: Entirely possible, absolutely.

      The thing about geothermal heat pumps is that you do have to put loops in the ground, right, so you need to have that sort of space. There are such things now as district geothermal systems, which would mean the loop would be in a space that maybe is on public lands, and then there's a connection that just has to go from the district loop to the house. But if you are installing a geothermal in a household, you have to have adequate space dedi­cated for that loop in the household.

      So likely fair to say there's lots of different reasons that people choose geothermal or air source, and space is definitely one of them.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you to the CEO for that answer.

      Is Efficiency Manitoba working with developers in cities to, like they say, put the geothermal loops in so they can serve entire sub­divi­sions, perhaps?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, we actually are in very early con­ver­sa­tions with a couple, some more advanced than others.

      But we have one developer that has a very great vision for a greenhouse-gas-emissions-free dev­elop­ment. And so we're in, you know, very lengthy dis­cussions with that parti­cular developer. Also have a couple other ones that, you know, some greenfield sites that are looking to maybe possibly do some­thing with a district system, and in early con­ver­sa­tions with them, as well.

      Right now, we didn't have a specific district geo­thermal program per se, but one of the innovations that the team came up with at Efficiency Manitoba as a result of one of these developers that we've been working–is, can we separate what a new building receives as an incentive. So a new building would receive an incentive from a geothermal heat pump, but can we separate that from a district system? Because, essentially, the district system would be put in by some­body else, whereas the building owner or developer is building the building. So can you separate those two incentives?

      And so, through the energy modellers that we have at Efficiency Manitoba, they've actually come up with a way that you can do that. So we're looking for­ward to testing that innovation to see if we can still maintain cost effectiveness by looking at a project in that fashion.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you for that answer.

      So a total of 48 pumps over the last fiscal year. The current gov­ern­ment has promised to install 5,000 new geothermal systems over the next four years. I would assume that the gov­ern­ment would then have to work with Efficiency Manitoba on that.

      Do you see that as realistic, when 48 homes were done over the past year, that we could do an average of 1,250 a year over the next four years?

Ms. Kuruluk: Well, and I think the con­ver­sa­tion we just had on that with respect to some innovations on district geothermal would point to a really good poten­tial to get those numbers.

      The other thing–I just want to correct the record, because I was mentioning the ground source heat pump program and the air source heat pump program. We've actually installed quite a few geothermal heat pumps in First Nation com­mu­nities as well, which is a separate program.

      So I just want to correct the record, and I'll look over my shoulder if we have that number. So the 48 that I mentioned were not the full complement; those were two programs.

      And so the district geothermal definitely poses a really good op­por­tun­ity to get a lot more geothermal heat pumps installed, and plus the ad­di­tional pro­grams that we have that we're offering right now for geothermal.

Mr. Nesbitt: Yes, I'd be very interested if the CEO could provide that number so we have a total number of installations in '22-23.

      So my under­standing is the Province has an agree­­ment in principle under Ottawa's Oil to Heat Pump Affordability program to convert 2,500 homes in Manitoba from home heating oil to electricity or natural gas.

      Can–is efficiency man–first of all, is Efficiency Manitoba involved in that, and can the CEO please let us know how many homes have been converted in Manitoba so far?

Ms. Kuruluk: I have a meeting on the oil to air source–oil to heat pump program on Wednesday this week. So I don't believe anything's been signed; I'll find out on Wednesday.

      But given that nothing's been signed, I don't be­lieve there's been really any installations, although I do understand that there's been maybe a couple of customers that applied directly to the federal gov­ern­ment for the oil to heat pump program.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you very much for that answer.

      Yes, it's our under­standing that there's been two applications to the federal gov­ern­ment under that program and both were denied. So again, there's a long way to go in terms of converting the oil users to elec­tricity here in Manitoba.

      Is the minister aware of this program, and is the minister aware of those stats; that there's only been two applications under this program and both were denied?

MLA Schmidt: I know that our de­part­ment has been working very closely with the Crown cor­por­ation and Efficiency Manitoba and along with our federal counter­parts to get the oil to heat program co-delivered within this fiscal year.

Mr. Nesbitt: Does the minister or the CEO–I'll leave it open–know how many oil users are in Manitoba for heating their homes?

Ms. Kuruluk: So, yes, the 2,500 was a number that we actually provided to the de­part­ment based on–we worked closely with Manitoba Hydro on an end-use survey, so that was the most recent data that we had regarding fuel oil heated customers.

      We also support fuel oil heated customers through pro­gram­ming for insulation, for example, under the Affordable Energy Fund. So we still do support those customers. So we actually have had partici­pation in our programs for insulation and windows, and therefore are able to do a better job of marketing to those customers perhaps, than what the federal gov­ern­ment is able to do.

      And one thing I'd just like to add regarding the denied heat pumps, and I don't have the details be­cause obviously that's going directly to the federal gov­ern­ment, but what it does do is speak really clearly to why co-delivery and working with the prov­incial gov­ern­ment is very im­por­tant.

      Because I suspect that those heat pumps were probably denied because the customer needed to maintain their backup system, and so whether they were wanting to maintain a backup system of fuel oil or an electric furnace, that definitely increases the cost.

      And so a lot of the heat pumps that have been delivered under the federal program have been delivered suc­cess­fully in the–on the east coast, in the Maritimes, where backup sources are not required. And so, you know, the unique nature of our environ­ment in Manitoba means that there'll have to be some en­hance­ments or some ac­com­moda­tions made for the customers that want to partici­pate here in Manitoba.

      And so that's been really positive that the de­part­ment has been working with the federal gov­ern­ment to make sure that those changes can be made.

Mr. Nesbitt: Have–has Efficiency Manitoba been having any discussions with the prov­incial gov­ern­ment on securing federal invest­ment into the existing heat pump program?

Ms. Kuruluk: I guess I would say from the per­spec­tive that, like, we use our–the federal invest­ment in the Low Carbon Economy Fund if we're switching a customer from natural gas to geothermal, but outside of that, we haven't asked for further invest­ment.

      Unfor­tunately, you know, about two weeks ago, the federal gov­ern­ment did end their Greener Homes Grant program, which was an avenue that the federal gov­ern­ment was investing directly to customers in these types of tech­no­lo­gies.

      And so, you know, we worked closely with the energy advisors that were doing the energy audits on Manitoba homes, that was a prerequisite of the federal program to partici­pate, and get those incentives for geothermal or air source heat pumps.

      And so, we note that that will definitely have an impact on customers because they were able to stack both the federal gov­ern­ment money with Efficiency Manitoba's money and buy down a larger percentage of that cost for those installations.

* (10:50)

      So, you know, we have been speaking with the federal gov­ern­ment in terms of what is the next iteration of a Greener Homes Grant program and what does that look like and how can we make sure that Manitoba customers are served well with that federal program.

      But outside of that, I think that would be the only discussion that we're having.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you very much for that answer, Mr. Chair.

      Does the CEO have that infor­ma­tion, then, on the total number of geothermal installations in the last fiscal year, or will the CEO under­take to provide that in a timely basis?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, I can under­take to get that. And you would be talking about geothermal heat pumps that may not have received any incentive at all from either a federal gov­ern­ment or Efficiency Manitoba, or just parti­ci­pants in the programs?

Mr. Nesbitt: Yes, I guess I was using the 48 number, and you corrected me and there's more. So I would like to know the total number, and I guess if there could be a breakdown between incentive heat pumps and ones that were installed otherwise that you know of.

Ms. Kuruluk: We can under­take to get those numbers.

Mr. Piwniuk: And we're going to stay on the question of geothermal pumps.

      Back in 2001, Mr. Chair, we–I was a part of an insurance brokerage owner­ship, and we built a brand new building in Virden, Manitoba, and we actually did a–one of the–in 2001, one of the first geothermal–it's new tech­no­lo­gy at the time. And we actually had to use, like, the–good thing that we had a good-sized lot, because we had to do–instead of doing five holes of 100 feet, we had to go 10 holes loop of hosing for–because of they didn't have large enough drills to go vertical down.

      And this is the issue that I think we're going to be facing here, because, right now, the current gov­ern­ment promised that there was going to be 5,000 in their mandate, and the thing is, is it–let's say, for instance, a lot of it's going to have to either be new housing that were being built so that the land is there, or what about–what–how practical, I want to ask the CEO, Mr. Chair–how practical is it now to actually go into an existing property and drill these vertical or horizontal pumps–lines for the pumps?

      So is that going to be–because right now a lot of the houses that are being built in Winnipeg are really built on postage-stamp lots, a lot of them are land­scaped. It's going to be very hard for a truck to be actually put on that lot to drill these geothermal loops. I'm just going to ask the CEO if that's practical.

Ms. Kuruluk: Is it technically feasible? So, I won't go practical first, I'll go is it technically feasible? Yes, I think it is.

      You know, I think it's not unlike a sewer connec­tion, right. Your sewer pipes are on public property and then there's a connection that goes to your house. So, if a district geothermal–and I will qualify this answer with saying I am not a district geothermal designer–but if you can connect a house with a geo­thermal connection to a loop that's on public lands, that, to me, sounds technically feasible.

      Is it more practical or more cost effective to do it at the start of a dev­elop­ment? I suspect so, because you're digging the trenches for all the services. It could be added at that time.

      So, you know, there's, I guess, different options and different levels of cost effectiveness.

Mr. Piwniuk: Thanks for that infor­ma­tion.

      And yes, so the other question I have when the–when it comes to, you know, geothermal, when it–so the fact is–so, most of it will be under new con­struc­tion, because the fact is, again, that's one of the obstacles that you'll also have, too, is, Mr. Chair, is, you know, when it comes to other, you know, utilities that are buried in-ground and the abilities of, you know, the actual equip­ment to get into someone's lot is going to be a major factor.

      I know they can build swimming pools in backyards; I guess they can do this, too. But, at the same time, that is going to be one of the challenges, and I just want to know if–what the cost would be if the–if it–would it be more expensive to do, I guess, on existing buildings versus a new dev­elop­ment? And how much would that cost be, if–you think?

Ms. Kuruluk: And so we have not partici­pated–or, Efficiency Manitoba has not partici­pated in a district geothermal at this point yet.

      Like I said, we're very far along in discussions and technical support and some incentives for one customer, and I think, at this point, probably com­mercially sensitive infor­ma­tion to divulge the costs that they're ex­per­iencing, because it has been a tendered project.

      But we haven't–so we don't have a lot of ex­per­ience with it. I mean, there are other juris­dic­tions that have some ex­per­ience, and so if this is the path we're going to be going forward with then we'll definitely do our due diligence and do some research, and work to deter­mine what those costs are.

      You know, you mentioned cost-effectiveness. And, you know, likely–and again, like I said, I'm not a district geothermal designer–but likely more cost-effective, or less challenges, I guess, maybe, with a new site versus working with existing customers and their properties.

Mr. Piwniuk: Okay. I'm going to question now for when it comes to those on-demand heat boiler systems. You know, we actually had an old boiler–well actually, really old boiler–which was almost as big as a hot water tank. Then we went to a now more of efficient square hot water boiler. And now we've got one that goes on demand, and not only does it heat the boiler system, the hot water system goes through the house, but also heats the hot water.

      So I was wanting to know if there's anything there. I know there's probably some programs, but I want to know how much savings would that be for that new tech­no­lo­gy. Do you guys have any idea of what the, you know, for more people to do that type of efficiency when it comes to products like that?

Ms. Kuruluk: And, Mr. Chair, I'm just going to ask a clarifying question. I guess my question to that ques­tion would be, is this–are we talking about an electric sourced on demand, or a natural gas sourced on demand?

Mr. Piwniuk: Mr. Chair, it's natural gas.

Ms. Kuruluk: So, Mr. Chair, we actually don't have any data per se on whether that system would even save very much money, which tells me it may not. Because if there's energy savings in any tech­no­lo­gy, we typically have a program around it.

      With water tanks versus on-demand, the real savings become what is the heat loss of your tank? So if you're talking about water heat, if your tank is–the efficiency of your tank is low, say, and I think–I'm going to speak from memory here–typical–a standard-efficiency gas water tank is maybe in the 56 to 60 per cent efficient, and that typically means that it's losing heat at a faster rate than an efficient water tank, which might be 80, 85 per cent efficient.

      I know that there's a massive cost increase to go to a more efficient water tank, which is, like, you know, which impacts our cost-effectiveness. So on demand, the savings that you would achieve would be you're not having the heat loss from storing the water in a tank.

      And again I would have to endeavour to–for one of our technical folks–to pull together that. Again, I'm not an engineer, nor the technical person, but I would have to endeavour to get some­thing like that if you wanted detailed infor­ma­tion.

Mr. Piwniuk: When it comes to, like, that type of exhaustion–exhaust furnaces, we had to use a chimney, versus now we can just go to a vent. So it must be–there must be some kind of efficiencies there, because of less amount of exhaust that comes off of natural gas when it comes to heating that type of unit. So if I can get some infor­ma­tion on that, that'd be great. Thanks, Mr. Chair.

MLA Khan: Thank you, CEO, and I'm going to start off with a real simple one, I think you've already answered this to the CEO, but again I'll get it just for clari­fi­ca­tion, Mr. Chair.

      Geothermal pumps are more efficient than regular natural gas that Manitobans are using to heat their houses?

Ms. Kuruluk: That is correct. I think we esti­mate 60 per cent savings on a geothermal and 30 per cent on an air-source heat pump.

MLA Khan: And does the CEO currently have any numbers on how many houses in Manitoba are being heated with natural gas?

Ms. Kuruluk: I'm going to–this is almost like a Manitoba Hydro question, but I'm thinking there's roughly 200 resi­den­tial naturally gas–natural gas heated customers. [interjection] What? Oh, sorry, 200,000. Did I say 200? There's 200,000.

MLA Khan: When the CEO said 200, I assumed she meant 200,000.

* (11:00)

      I believe there's somewhere around 260,000 roughly from Hydro committee last week and that overtook. So about 260,000 houses in Manitoba using natural gas to currently heat their houses. Geothermal is more efficient, as the CEO said, about 60 per cent.

      The question now is: Does the minister have any idea of what it's going to cost to convert those 260,000 homes?

MLA Schmidt: Yes, it would certainly be an ambi­tious undertaking to eventually get all those $260,000–sorry, 260,000 customers off natural gas. I don't have a number here today but we're confident that, you know, Manitobans are moving in this direc­tion. It's important. We are committed to, you know, facing and addressing the climate crisis head-on and we understand it's an ambitious plan and we look forward to pursuing it.

MLA Khan: I want to thank the minister for that honest answer. That's–I mean, that's a ridiculous number, 260,000; convert that. But just laying the–laying for the next one here. When it comes to efficiency in the province of Manitoba and converting to geothermal, you know, this government now committed to con­vert­ing 5,000 homes to geothermal. And, you know, to quote the CEO that there's been a low uptake of geothermal conversions.

      Does the minister have a number on how much it's going to cost to convert 5,000 homes, when they campaigned on net zero by 2035?

MLA Schmidt: Yes, we're very excited about phase 1 of our plan, which is implementing and co-delivering the oil to heat pump program with the federal govern­ment. We've secured an agreement in principle with the federal government at a rate of about approx­i­mately $15,000 per unit, understanding that there are 2,500 of those types of customers that are using oil–heat their homes here in Manitoba. That's looking–about 37 and a half million dollars of investment flowing from the federal government here into Manitoba.

      We think that's a great first start to our plan and we also look forward to pursuing projects, as the CEO has outlined, in a district model. And so those are the first phases of our program.

      And the next phase will be–I think you would agree that, you know, 2,500 is half of 5,000. That's going to get us halfway there with significant invest­ments from the federal government, something that I think Manitobans are looking for.

      I think Manitobans are excited about having a government today that is looking at collaborating with the federal government and taking advantage of those opportunities and those federal dollars. That's some­thing that we've been lacking here in the province under the previous government, I would argue, and we're very excited to co-deliver that program with our federal counterparts.

The Chairperson: I just want to provide a gentle reminder to the committee that the item on the agenda today is the 2022-2023 annual report and that all questions should relate directly to that.

MLA Khan: Thank you for that gentle and friendly reminder.

      You know, and again, I would, you know, just mention that everything we are talking about is regards to the annual report. So whether we're talking about the numbers in the actual annual report or stuff that the annual report is talking about or programs that Efficiency Manitoba is doing or wants to do is all relevant to the conversation happening today.

      The question then is, you know, again continuing around the geothermal, as mentioned in the annual report, the minister talked about the oil to heat program with the federal government and my colleague had mentioned earlier that although that is a program, only two applicants in the province of Manitoba have applied and both of them are denied. So, out of the 2,500 that this minister refers to in phase 1, they're still 2,500 short.

      When it comes to the costs, and I ask this question because the Minister of Finance (MLA Sala) actually suggested that we ask this current minister for that. So again, you know, getting back to the question, does the minister have any idea of what 5,000 conversion costs will be, and I'll quote the Minister of Finance as saying: That's a question that I would better–that would be better suited for my colleague, who is the Minister responsible for Efficiency Manitoba, which is the department for.

      So again, I ask the minister, since her Minister of Finance is asking–telling me to ask her: What is the cost, any idea, to convert 5,000 homes to geothermal?

MLA Schmidt: What we know is that Manitoba families and businesses are looking to take advantage of the green options and the green energy grid here in Manitoba. They are looking to save money, and we are working very closely with our department, with the Crown corporation of Efficiency Manitoba and with our federal counterparts to get our co-delivered program up and running. We really look forward to sharing those details with Manitobans as we develop our program.

The Chairperson: We've had a request to take a 10‑minute break.

      Is it the will of the com­mit­tee to take a 10-minute pause? [Agreed]

      The com­mit­tee will recess for 10 minutes. Thank you.

The committee recessed at 11:05 a.m.


The committee resumed at 11:18 a.m.

The Chairperson: All right, will the standing com­mit­tee please come back to order.

Committee Substitution

The Chairperson: I would like to inform the com­mit­tee that under rule 84(2), the following member­ship substitution has been made for this com­mit­tee effective imme­diately: MLA Maloway for MLA Moroz.

* * *

The Chairperson: We will now continue with questions.

MLA Khan: So, I guess I'll just circle back a little bit, get our minds all back on the same track where we were before, you know, talking about the Efficiency Manitoba annual report, when it comes to geothermal and projects and whatnot.

      So I guess my line of questioning will be along–to–is just to–clarifying: When the minister talks about the oil to heat program, is that ad­di­tional to the geo­thermal program? If the minister could clarify that, Mr. Chair.

MLA Schmidt: If I–thank you, Mr. Chair. If I under­stand your question, that, you know, my under­standing is that Efficiency Manitoba does already have programs that apply to geothermal heat pumps and air source heat pumps. So that is some­thing that's in existence and I'm assuming will continue to operate in the meantime.

      And what our gov­ern­ment has been able to nego­tiate with the federal gov­ern­ment is a, I guess we could call it a new or a novel co-delivered, program to get homes in Manitoba that are currently spe­cific­ally using oil to heat their homes and convert them onto a geothermal or an air source program. And that's because that is the federal program that exists today.

      The federal gov­ern­ment, as I understand it, cur­rently only has a oil to heat pump geothermal transi­tion program. We are looking to partner with them and co-deliver that program here in Manitoba for Manitobans.

* (11:20)

MLA Khan: Thank you to the minister for clarifying that, thank you. That's a nice, good, easy question to start back off the second half of this.

      So the oil to heat program is different than the geothermal program, so that's the 2,500 homes that the federal gov­ern­ment will hopefully have a part­ner­ship with this prov­incial gov­ern­ment on converting.

      Is the minister aware if that program is­–when–the conversion of the oil to heat pumps, is that going to go to air or to geothermal in that federal program?

MLA Schmidt: Thank you for the question.

      My under­standing is that federal program is set up for both, either ground source heat pumps or air source heat pumps.

MLA Khan: Got you, and thank you, Mr. Chair, and I might have this mistaken, because it was right before break. I believe the minister had mentioned some­thing along the lines of–maybe the minister can clarify this, Mr. Chair–that the agree­ment, the federal gov­ern­ment would pay for half of, roughly, the conversions at $37.5 million, if that's correct, of the 2,500 oil–current oil–homes that use oil to heat?

MLA Schmidt: Thank you for the question.

      Yes, I understand that there are–you're correct in that there's, based on the figures that we have pro­vided to us from Manitoba Hydro and their research, there are about 2,500 homes in Manitoba that cur­rently use oil to heat their homes.

      But I'll just have to correct the record that our agree­ment in principle with the federal gov­ern­ment is that the federal gov­ern­ment's share would cover about 75 per cent of the upfront cost: $15,000 dollars per unit, with the prov­incial gov­ern­ment matching at–or contributing $5,000 per unit.

MLA Khan: I think we might have asked this in the earlier–very begin­ning of this com­mit­tee, but–and I'm sure it's outlined in the annual report–but does the CEO, Mr. Chair, have the number for the total budget for Efficiency Manitoba in this annual report?

Ms. Kuruluk: I believe that the budget is in there. It's roughly $76 million for '22-23.

MLA Khan: We can go with that number. I believe from reading the annual report that sounds about right, 72, $76 million.

      Does the CEO believe, based on this annual report and going forward with, you know, hopes of further expanding the mandate by Efficiency Manitoba, or that they want to work with the gov­ern­ment to expand the mandate, the programs, incentives, the geo­thermal, that they will need an increased budget to operate in the future?

Ms. Kuruluk: I think it's probably some­what pre­mature until we know exactly how Efficiency Manitoba will be involved and what the program parameters are to say whether we'll need an increased budget or not. You know, our program–because this is the second extension year of our efficiency plan, so, we've had two extensions, so our budget has largely remained intact until such time as we can do a fully modelled and developed efficiency plan, which is an activity that's underway as we speak.

MLA Khan: In regards to the geothermal programs that are currently being run with Efficiency Manitoba, you know, I want to get back to the question that the Minister of Finance (MLA Sala) posed that I ask the minister here today. And I'll quote again, the–we–I don't think we got an answer for this for a number, and the Minister of Finance says, when asked does the minister have an idea what 5,000 homes conversion cost would be, and the minister is, again, quoted as saying that's a question I think would be better suited for my colleague who is the minister respon­si­ble for Efficiency Manitoba.

      So, Mr. Chair, the question is, you know, being how this program, the 5,000 geothermal, is different than the oil to heat pump program that's–the federal government's going to partner with, does the minister have a number for the 5,000–for the conversion of the 5,000 cost, as the Minister of Finance suggested that she would?

The Chairperson: The Minister of Finance's com­ments are not in the annual report, and I would ask that you would tie your questions to the annual report.

MLA Khan: Apologize for that. I assumed, since the Minister of Finance had asked me to ask the minister here today, that I could do that, but I have remissed. I apologize for that for anybody from Hansard.

      So the question, I guess, then will go to the minister–sorry, to the CEO, Mr. Chair is, does the CEO have a rough cost? We've talked about oil to heat pump conversion costs.

      Does the CEO have a cost of what it costs typically for installation of a geothermal for a resident?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, so we would have installation costs from partici­pating customers, and this would be under the current program; a customer that installs a dedi­cated geothermal heat pump to their home.

      And of course it's a range of costs because dif­ferent homes need a bigger system but the range of costs customers that have gone through the program have ex­per­ienced is between 25 and 40 thousand dollars.

MLA Khan: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I thank the CEO for that number. I mean, that is a fairly large range, but of course there's a ton of factors out there and geothermal is still, I believe, relatively new and we don't have a lot of ex­per­ience, if I were to quote the CEO mentioning that.

      So 25 to 40, so if we take the average–or the median, I guess, on that, it would be roughly $33,000 if you take just the middle point on that for installation on that.

      Now, cost aside, to hit the target of 5,000 geo­thermal homes, you know, we're looking at roughly 1,250 a year, and being how–the CEO had mentioned earlier that, you know, it's costly, it's more com­plicated, there's been a low uptick and potentially not a lot of installers.

      Does the province currently have the workforce capacity to install 1,250 homes if that was so the wish of Manitobans?

Ms. Kuruluk: So I think this kind of speaks to a con­ver­sa­tion that we had before the break, which is, there's a really interesting option out there to serve homes with geothermal through a district system, so not the dedi­cated per household geothermal.

      So I think when you start investigating innovative options such as a district system, I think that ob­viously, the cost per household would be reduced. And, again, in early discussions with some developers and customers that are contemplating this type of system but don't have a lot of history yet on what that kind of cost would be.

MLA Khan: Thank you to the CEO for that question.

      And just based on the rough numbers here, if we say the 33,000 and I guess the per district house–so it's–I guess the question then would go to the mini­ster–sorry, here, Mr. Chair–is when they talk about their 5,000 target, can the minister clarify, is that per household or was that districts? Maybe they have some more clari­fi­ca­tion on what that 5,000 number looks like.

MLA Schmidt: I guess the answer would be all of the above. We're certainly looking at individual home conversions; we're looking at district conversions. But I also just for the record want to clarify–and you know, there's been some numbers thrown out here–but again, we also, I think it's im­por­tant to distinguish that there are different tech­no­lo­gies, right?

      Ground source heat pumps are certainly sig­nifi­cantly more expensive but our plan does not only include ground source heat pumps; we're also looking at air source heat pumps.

      And again, I will also remind the com­mit­tee that we are working very closely, unlike the previous gov­ern­ment, with our federal counterparts to secure invest­ments and to co-deliver this program in part­ner­ship.

MLA Khan: I know the minister wants to constantly refer to the previous gov­ern­ment, and I think the CEO and everyone in the room made it very clear that Efficiency Manitoba was started under the previous gov­ern­ment and Efficiency Manitoba has come a long way under the previous gov­ern­ment and we're here to talk about the annual reports.

      And moving forward with this 5,000 geothermal system, so, you know, if I can maybe correct the minister that the commit­ment was to 5,000 new geo­thermal systems over the course of four years; unless the minister is now saying that that is not correct and the minister is saying that the Premier (Mr. Kinew) was wrong when he quoted 4,000–or 5,000 geothermal systems.

The Chairperson: Again, I'm going to ask the mem­ber to tie their questions back to the annual report of Efficiency Manitoba.

MLA Khan: I guess I'll tie that question all back into the commit­ment of 5,000 new geothermal systems with the annual report from Efficiency Manitoba.

* (11:30)

      Based on what the CEO said, between $25,000 and $40,000 as the range, given tech­no­lo­gies and situations as the minister alluded to, middle cost, $33,000. Mr. Chair, $33,000 per home times 5,000, you're looking at a cost of $165 million. You break that down to one year, you're at about $41 million for the 1,250 homes. Again, using the middle cost, could be higher; could be slightly lower; $41 million for the installation of that–for the geothermal, as the commit­ment was. Based on its annual report, that's 53 per cent of Efficiency Manitoba's entire budget.

      Does the–the question is for the CEO: Does the CEO believe that is the best way to spend the budget, if this gov­ern­ment was to go forward and live up to their promise of 5,000 geothermal houses in the next four years?

Ms. Kuruluk: So, I think, as the–Minister Schmidt mentioned, we're not constricting, and I mean I'm speaking a little bit out of turn, but not necessarily constricting the installations to one type.

      So what the cost will be, if it is geothermal or if it's air source, it's going to be different if we have federal funds that are also contributing to that cost, and customers that might want to contribute to the cost as well.

MLA Khan: You know–thank you. I want to thank you, Mr. Chair, for the op­por­tun­ity, and I want to thank the CEO. And again I ap­pre­ciate that there's a wide range, so I mean we could use a different number if the minister doesn't like–or the–sorry, the CEO or the minister says $33,000. The middle point is not the right one, you know, and that's why I asked the ques­tion to the minister earlier, do they have a number of what it costs to convert one household.

      I mean, I guess the question's to Efficiency Manitoba: Based on this annual report, you would have a forecast for the future, I would assume, on costs for energy efficiency in this province, and does Efficiency Manitoba have a forecast of the given variables of the high and low range on what it will cost to convert 5,000 homes to geothermal, Mr. Chair?

Ms. Kuruluk: No, we have not prepared that forecast. I did mention earlier that we had a market potential study that looked at what was technically and econo­mically feasible for energy savings in the province, and that was under a reference scenario, an enhanced scenario and a max scenario, but that did not go by tech­no­lo­gy spe­cific­ally. It's like, this is what the cost of achieving that level of savings would be. So that's the forecast that we do have in hand.

MLA Khan: So, just to clarify, Mr. Chair. So, if I heard correctly, that the CEO–we don't have a forecast number of what it would cost, high or low, of–on a–of a variety of different factors of what the cost would be. We–Efficiency Manitoba, if I'm hearing that cor­rectly, does not have a cost for that?

Ms. Kuruluk: Mr. Chair, I'll just ask a clarifying ques­tion, was it–cost to what? We have a cost forecast for delivering energy savings at a higher level, but I'm not sure if the member is asking whether it's a cost for heat pumps or the cost of what.

MLA Khan: And that's a very fair question. To the CEO, I apologize for that. In the preamble the cost of converting 5,000 homes to geothermal, again under­standing and respecting that there is a wide variety of factors and reasons that can change that, whether it be district housing for a uniblock of housing, individual housing. But does Efficiency Manitoba have any sort of forecast at all to tell Manitobans what that would cost?

Ms. Kuruluk: And I would say, like, we have not been asked to provide that forecast. We're waiting to hear what the details of the affordable home heating program would be, and once we consult with the de­part­ment we'll look at costing out different options.

MLA Khan: And can I ask the CEO, I guess, to pro­vide that costing to this com­mit­tee when that is done?

Ms. Kuruluk: I would–I'm going to look to my right here for the minister, but I would say obviously that's going to be some­thing that we work with the de­part­ment first and foremost, but suspect there would be other avenues to request that data.

MLA Schmidt: Yes. Efficiency Manitoba is designed to do several things, including save Manitobans money.

      Another thing that I will add, and it's some­thing that one of our com­mit­tee colleagues pointed out very early in this discussion and I think is very im­por­tant, because I think we are sort of veering a little bit into the weeds here when it comes to numbers, is just the terminology that we're using, right?

      We're talking about geothermal, and certainly that term has been used anecdotally in the House and in campaign promises, but I think we really need to clarify that when we use the term geothermal we're talking about a vast array of tech­no­lo­gies, all of which are very different in cost.

      And the CEO for Efficiency Manitoba can correct me if I am wrong, but I think that when she referenced the number of 25 to 40 thousand dollars, what she was referencing, I believe, was ground-source individual-home heat pump installation.

      And I just want to high­light again that our pro­gram, as we're designing it currently, is not only for ground-source geothermal; would also be for air source geothermal. And I know that's probably not a technical scientific use of that term, but, you know, anecdotally those–that's the verbiage that we've been using. So I just wanted to high­light that for the com­mit­tee, because I don't want it–us to get hung up on numbers. The 25 to 40 thousand would be for ground source; that's not the only thing we're looking at.

      Another thing I would like to high­light is that Manitoba–sorry, Efficiency Manitoba has a mandate to operate in a cost-effective manner, and our gov­ern­ment is really focused on provi­ding affordability for Manitobans and supporting Efficiency Manitoba to deliver their programs in a cost-effective way, and I have no doubt that we'll do that in the best interests of Manitobans.

MLA Khan: I want to thank the CEO, and I thank the minister for that clari­fi­ca­tion. You're right; there are a lot of new terms, I think, for myself included–I've been maybe misstepping a little bit–and other, you know, colleagues in the room here on all sides. So just–and I–so I want to thank the minister, first of all, for clarifying that.

      And then just so we're all, again, very clear that the commit­ment of 5,000 new homes to geothermal systems, when the Premier (Mr. Kinew) had said geothermal, now the minister is saying that that may be air pumps, may be ground pumps, may be district per-household ground pumps; that's a wide range of different types of heating–more efficient heating sys­tems, if I understand the minister correctly. And that can be a wide range, Mr. Chair.

MLA Schmidt: Yes, I think you've put it exactly correctly, MLA Khan, that when–colloquially, I think, when we use the term geothermal, you know, we're referencing a whole bunch of different tech­no­lo­gies that probably aren't technically and scientifically geo­thermal tech­no­lo­gies, but it is a catch-all phrase and some­thing that we use sort of colloquially, anec­dotally, to reference ground-source, air source tech­no­lo­gies that are more efficient. But thank you so much for the clari­fi­ca­tion.

MLA Khan: Thank you, Minister, for that. That was great. Glad we're all on the same page now. See, com­mit­tee can be also very nice as well, at times.

      So, question then: So if we go to the air source heat pumps–and then I only have one or two more other questions, and then I'll pass to my colleague–air source heated pumps–and maybe the CEO can correct me on this. If we are to convert to air source, you–I think you said the efficiency's about 30 per cent on that. But I believe air force–or air source heat pumps also need a backup system which is gas, a natural gas.

      So, will that cost of a backup gas system also be included in installation of an air source system? If Efficiency Manitoba can maybe comment on that a little bit, air source pumps.

Ms. Kuruluk: And thank you for that question.

      So, yes, I had mentioned earlier that air source heat pumps, typically in Manitoba–the coldest days in Manitoba–will need a backup system. It doesn't have to be gas; it can be electric. It doesn't have to be new; it can be existing. And it's–it depends on, you know, the age of the existing gas furnace that might be in a household, whether a contractor could make sure that the controls are such that, you know, you don't want the gas furnace competing with the air source heat pump, so they have to make sure it's an integrated system design.

      But I don't believe that it's necessary that a new gas furnace would be required in every air source heat pump installation.

MLA Khan: And just two last questions here. Getting back to the workforce capacity–I think I had asked that question earlier–I just want to be clear on that. So if Manitobans were–and the masses do want to convert to geothermal housing in the wide range of what geothermal, today I think we esta­blished, means–does Efficiency Manitoba have the workforce to complete those installations–5,000 in four years?

Ms. Kuruluk: And I would–the quick answer is no, Efficiency Manitoba does not have the workforce to install geothermal heat pumps.

* (11:40)

      But we wouldn't be the ones actually doing the installation, necessarily. I mean, obviously there's a very large private sector group of busi­nesses that are spe­cific­ally doing geothermal installations, so we would leverage what we can, the expertise that exists in Manitoba today, to assist with that.

MLA Khan: In all the efforts, I think the one thing this com­mit­tee and everyone in this room can agree on is that we want Manitoba to become more efficient, we want it to become more green, we want to move forward in that direction.

      Just the concern that I have, though, is just with this new tech­no­lo­gy and, you know, stating numer­ous times we don't have a lot of ex­per­ience in this pro­vince, it's a little bit out of the wheelhouse. It's mentioned in the annual report, but it's not a huge focus yet, and we're shifting to that.

      Does the CEO believe, in their expertise that, or their ex­per­ience in this industry, that we do have the workforce in this province to complete those, even though they're not a high demand product right now?

Ms. Kuruluk: That's, you know, that's a fantastic question, and it was some­thing that I addressed with Mr. Nesbitt's question earlier on, which is one of the market barriers that efficient tech­no­lo­gies face is sometimes capacity.

      But I–before we go there, I just wanted to correct some­thing that you had stated before, that, you know, it's a relatively new tech­no­lo­gy with limited ex­per­ience. Geothermal has been around for a very long time, actually, so it's not new. It's just a more complex installation and I have full faith in Manitobans, and I'm meeting with the Manitoba Business Council in a couple months to talk about how can Manitoba com­panies step up and take part in the green economy.

      And so I've got full con­fi­dence that the existing installers that are out there and will be ramping up their own installers and employees to make sure that they can deliver on a commit­ment for geothermal installs or air source heat pump installations.

MLA Khan: If Manitobans, again, based on the num­ber of 5,000 of 260,000 houses in the province that are currently operating on gas, taking into account the district, but the district is not going to make up hun­dreds of thousands, so of the hundreds of thousands that may want to convert to geothermal, how does a Manitoban get a lottery ticket from this gov­ern­ment to convert to geothermal? Maybe the minister can an­swer that question, Mr. Chair.

MLA Schmidt: We are very excited about our pro­gram. We understand that fully converting Manitoba, all Manitoban homes to a geothermal system, an air source or a ground source heat pump, would be rather ambitious.

      Right now we're working on our plan with Efficiency Manitoba for this fiscal year. We have a plan in this current mandate, our four-year mandate, to convert 5,000 homes. We believe that our oil to heat pump co-delivered program with the federal gov­ern­ment will get us halfway there. We have exciting dis­trict programs that we're working on, and we're very excited to deliver this program for Manitobans to save them money and also to address the climate crisis and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

MLA Khan: I want to thank the minister again for that answer, and I guess we look forward to how Manitobans will be drawn; so look forward to hearing some an­nounce­ments from the gov­ern­ment on how Manitobans would win a lottery ticket, I guess, to con­vert to this new energy–or geothermal, if they want to convert their house. It's 5,000 out of 260,000. I might stand a better chance of winning Lotto 6/49.

      But getting to the annual report here, when we talk about electric savings, natural gas savings, the question is for the CEO. With this increase in demand, and where we're headed as a province, that we believe this is the right thing to do as a country, as a province, as a world, as a society, to become more green, and  we're transitioning that way, and Manitoba is one of the greenest energy producers in this country; 276 gigawatts saved through Efficiency Manitoba in this annual report.

      The question for the CEO is: With this shift to geothermal and more green; and the concerns, the dire concerns that were brought up last week with Manitoba Hydro; and the fact that we may run out of energy by 2029; and based on this annual report on electric savings that are done, has the CEO or Efficiency Manitoba run any numbers on what that looks like for the increase in demand of these 5,000 houses, these 2,500 oil to heat pump houses; what that would do on the electric capacity, energy capacity of this province?

Ms. Kuruluk: And that, obviously, is a question better suited for Manitoba Hydro. I do not work on their load forecast. But I know that during their inte­grated resource planning process they did run four scenarios of potential loads of the future, the fourth scenario being a very rapid decarbonization and the switch from electric–or, from gas to electric resistance heating.

      So they have done those forecasts. They have some scenarios that have been run. And so what we're work­ing with Manitoba Hydro on is some of the outputs of that integrated resource plan, which are spe­cific­ally meant to be: How do we do beneficial electrification? How do we make sure that we're doing as much high‑value energy efficiency? And so when you men­tioned them being out of energy by 2029, I believe that was a–it might have been a capacity issue versus energy.

      And so we know that to go from an electric resist­ance furnace to a geothermal heat pump is going to reduce the peak. So it actually would be a beneficial energy efficiency upgrade from an electric resistance furnace, and it would help them with the forecasts that they've already put forward in those scenarios, so.

MLA Khan: I was going to pass it to my colleague, but the CEO, Mr. Chair, had mentioned a very interesting word in there, and that was the IRP. And the IRP–the integrated resource plan–which was the first in this province, was done under the former CEO of Hydro.

      So the question then, since the CEO had brought this up, just curious if the CEO has concerns that the IRP will no longer be used going forward in its original intent, as the CEO of Hydro is no longer there. Sounds like there's a synergy between, obviously, Hydro and Efficiency Manitoba and the IRP that the CEO mentioned. So will the CEO be using this e‑r-p–IRP going forward for Efficiency Manitoba?

The Chairperson: I believe this question would be better suited for Manitoba Hydro, and not for Efficiency Manitoba.

MLA Khan: I believe the question is directly related to–maybe I'll paraphrase that, then; I'll simplify it, Mr. Chair. Maybe the CEO can simply comment on: Is the CEO, or, will the CEO be using the IRP that was designed under the former CEO of Hydro in Manitoba–in Efficiency Manitoba operations going forward?

Ms. Kuruluk: Thank you for that question.

      We are working with Manitoba Hydro on some of the near-term actions that were identified in the IRP. So it is definitely informing some of the discussions and the decisions that we're having. And some of those discussions and com­mit­tees that were–have been struck are dealing with how do we make sure we do high-value energy efficiency that helps with the peak demand.

Mr. Nesbitt: Electric vehicles are certainly a topic of discussion these days in a lot of circles. I'm wondering what programs Efficiency Manitoba currently has to encourage EV sales or charging installations across the province.

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, the–and you've asked a question that we get from virtually everybody. So right now, Efficiency Manitoba does not have a mandate for doing demand-side manage­ment in trans­por­tation fuels. That's one of the areas that we have been in discussions, whether it's Efficiency Manitoba that's best suited to do that.

      I think one of the areas that we could partici­pate, if we were to have a mandate expanded to demand a response, would be more so in the vehicle charging. So vehicle-charging infra­structure's what's going to really impact the peak demand on the grid.

      And so we think we could play a really good role in making sure that customers are installing charging infra­structure that can be controlled to make sure that it's not hitting peak. But at present, we don't have a demand-response mandate at this point, and I know Minister Schmidt, you know, referenced earlier that we're talking through some of these things. So we'll continue those discussions and hopefully have an expanded mandate with maybe that being some­thing included.

Mr. Nesbitt: Thank you very much for the answer.

      So can the CEO confirm that Efficiency Manitoba's had discussions with the minister's office in terms of incorporating EV programs into Efficiency Manitoba in the future?

* (11:50)

Ms. Kuruluk: I think that would be, probably–dis­cussions about EV programs sounds very, very specific.

      We've been having mandate discussions. So whether that be demand response or demand-side manage­ment in trans­por­tation fields, more so on the mandate side.

Mr. Nesbitt: And thank you for that answer.

      What role does Efficiency Manitoba have in the energy advisor training program at Red River College?

Ms. Kuruluk: And thank you for that question.

      We're actually quite proud of that parti­cular program. We worked very closely with Manitoba Environ­mental Industries Association, as well as Red River College to help them develop the curriculum to develop the energy advisors in Manitoba, and this was in direct response to the launch of Greener Homes program from the federal gov­ern­ment that came upon us rather quickly. And one of the concerns we were raising to the federal gov­ern­ment at that time was that we had very few energy advisors in Manitoba operating.

      So, with the Greener Homes program requiring both a pre- and a post-audit we are very concerned that Manitobans were going to be left behind in accessing that program. So there was other partners, too. I don't want to leave anybody out, but it was MEIA, Red River College, Efficiency Manitoba, prairieHOUSE Performance–I believe Sus­tain­able Building Manitoba had a role in that as well–but–so we basically helped develop the curriculum and then offered up incentives for targeted groups to go through that training and partici­pate and become certified as an energy advisor.

Mr. Nesbitt: So can the CEO tell the com­mit­tee how many students have been trained and over what time frame and what the course length is?

Ms. Kuruluk: And you're going into quite a few details, but I recall a number that there was, and I would have to get that corrected if I'm wrong, but roughly 40 Manitobans that had gone through and certified with that program.

      The unfor­tunate part of that was when Greener Homes announced that they were likely going to be closing for new applicants. Obviously, that made the curriculum and the course much less attractive.

      One of the items that we were kind of banking on for work for those energy advisors was a building code that would have been requiring there to be a performance-based measure to confirm compliance, and unfor­tunately that didn't happen. So there was less work for those energy advisors than originally hoped. So, has an impact on how many entrants into the program end up going through, because you want to have a job at the end of it.

Mr. Nesbitt: So, is the CEO saying that there's no shortage of energy advisors and auditors at this point? That there's plenty in place to handle all of Efficiency Manitoba's programs?

Ms. Kuruluk: So I think the first thing I will say is at present we do not require an audit for our programs, so. We have some programs that you might need some pre-approval, and that's just to protect the customer to make sure that they're installing and going forward with an eligible retrofit. And there's other programs where we simply do a post-insulation rebate. So our program really eliminates any barriers that there might be, such as the cost of an audit, so that's one part of it.

      The only program that we do actually have an energy audit required is for our new homes program or the deep energy retrofit for new homes.

      And so right now we've had sufficient capacity to operate those programs on behalf of us. But in terms of–you know, you'd have to talk to the energy advisors to find out what the last two weeks of the Greener Homes grant was like, but I'm sure there was a lot of demand for those folks during that period.

      And so, you know, that's an evolving landscape, very quickly, just due to the in and out of the federal gov­ern­ment, so I couldn't comment spe­cific­ally on whether we're at surplus now or people have left and found jobs, or if they're still happy in those roles finishing up the audits.

Mr. Nesbitt: And thank you to the CEO.

      Aki Energy was provided with $185,000 to train Indigenous people on ground source heat pump tech­no­lo­gy and installation in First Nations com­mu­nities.

      Can the CEO tell us how many Indigenous Manitobans have been trained and are they working?

Ms. Kuruluk: While we're looking for that specific answer, I will basically talk about how proud we are of that program. I mean, it's really a testament to combining energy efficiency and what's good for both affordability, the climate, but also recon­ciliation and making sure that there's em­ploy­ment that exists in the com­mu­nities. And that's some­thing that we've heard is an amazing benefit of that First Nations install.

      And the number that we have, in terms of folks that have been trained, is 45 First Nations com­mu­nity members that have been trained on installing and maintaining geothermal heat pumps.

      And I know for our projections for '23-24, we're looking to–projecting to install 73 ground source heat pumps. I know that's a very specific number, but–so I would suspect those folks would definitely continue to be working. But, again, I can't comment spe­cific­ally on everybody's personal circum­stance and whether they're still working, but again, giving real, good skills for the green economy, for First Nations com­mu­nity members is some­thing that we're really proud of.

Mr. Nesbitt: I want to–certainly want to commend the CEO and Efficiency Manitoba on that initiative, and I think that having trained tech­no­lo­gy people in those com­mu­nities is im­por­tant. I live in a rural area and, again, having trained people close by is certainly im­por­tant. So again, I commend you.

      Thank you very much.

The Chairperson: Would you like to provide comments, Ms. Kuruluk?

Ms. Kuruluk: Well, thank you for that commend­ment. I think, you know, and member states it really well. I don't think there's anyone that could argue with the benefits that have been created as a result of that program.

Mr. Piwniuk: I just wanted to talk to–ask the CEO, when it comes to Indigenous com­mu­nities, when it comes to First Nations, do you get a lot of partici­pation with, I know, with prov­incial gov­ern­ment, but also with the federal gov­ern­ment, because a lot of times the respon­si­bility is for the feds, but we want to make sure that every­thing possibly, that we work with all levels of gov­ern­ment to make sure that we get the funding for–to make sure that they're suc­cess­ful.

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, thank you for that question, and you've raised a challenge that I know is one of the challenges that one of our Energy Efficiency Advisory Group members has brought up, which is how do you co-ordinate the different pots of funding for different objectives. And so I know one of our managers that's respon­si­ble for both our income qualified program and our First Nations programs sits on–and I'm–it's a MIHCEMI working group, and I'll have to look it up, but it's the–I'm going to leave it at it's a cross-functional team of both federal gov­ern­ment parti­ci­pants, CMHC and Efficiency Manitoba and several others. If you give me a second I'll get you exactly where it is.

      But working with that group is trying to address that barrier of trying to make sure that First Nations are accessing the funds in a–in the most simple way pos­sible, that meets everybody's objectives.

      And Chair, if you'll grant me leave for a second, I'm just going to have a look for this, because I know I have the answer here somewhere.

      So the name of the organi­zation that we work with  is the Manitoba Indigenous Housing Capacity Enhance­ment Mobilization Initiative. So I think we've been making some really good strides with that group to make sure that we're trying to make sure that energy efficiency–and from the federal gov­ern­ment's per­spec­tive, there's other things, like indoor air quality, you know, improving the living con­di­tions of the home that are their objectives–which also brings me to another initiative we have, which is called the commu­nity-driven out­comes model, which is work­ing through Raven capital Indigenous partners.

      And it's almost like a social impact bond, where Raven secures different out­comes buyers to partici­pate in the retrofit of a home, and we're going to be trialing both geothermal installs and deep energy retro­fits in housing in a First Nation com­mu­nity.

* (12:00)

      And we're an out­comes purchaser of the energy savings, of course, but there will be other out­comes purchasers that are interested, say, in the economic benefits of em­ploy­ment in the com­mu­nity, or the healthy benefits of improving the air quality of a home.

      So by pooling all those out­comes buyers, we're able to do a lot more and fund a lot more of the retrofit, which is a really, a great news story.

Mr. Piwniuk: Thanks to the CEO for that great infor­ma­tion.

      And the other question I have is: How many First Nations com­mu­nities are you involved with? Are they all through­out the whole province? Or are we looking at southern Manitoba also versus northern Manitoba? I think it's im­por­tant that, you know, we work together to make sure that everybody succeeds when it comes to the future.

      Recon­ciliation is im­por­tant and that's the question I have for the CEO, Mr. Chair.

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, we recog­nize that as well, and what I can say is that we definitely have contact with all 63 First Nations, so we, in our efforts to–for recon­ciliation, we've basically done and created a specific work group that works solely on First Nations and delivering programs for First Nations which we all understand, isolated com­mu­nities aside, that there's other challenges with making sure programs get into the hands of these com­mu­nities.

      So we've set up a work group that focuses on that. We have programs that are tailored and specific to that. And we will work with all First Nations com­mu­nities. And I know that one of the programs that we have that's working directly with 11 First Nations com­mu­nities through­out Manitoba–so not just in south­ern Manitoba–is our Indigenous Com­mu­nity Energy Efficiency Program, which is funding an advocate directly in the com­mu­nity to make sure that they're assisting com­mu­nity members in accessing Efficiency Manitoba programs.

      Efficiency Manitoba programs delivered to First Nations are different than what we would have here in the south in that we're trying to train com­mu­nity mem­bers to go in and do some of the direct install pieces and even train and help them do insulation in the homes. And so that's part of what we heard from com­mu­nities is that–and each com­mu­nity sometimes have a–has a different objective and that's part of recon­ciliation as well, is that you're not going to say that this exact program is going to be delivered in all First Nations exactly as is.

      Because each com­mu­nity has perhaps some­thing different that they want to focus on, so, but definitely, we're definitely working with even northern com­mu­nities.

Mr. Piwniuk: Another question I have now if we're going to com­mu­nities, is also munici­palities.

      How many munici­palities are in the programs? I know there's some efficient–energy efficiency plans that were also, for example is of the City of Selkirk to the Town of Hamiota con­stit­uency and my con­stit­uent is the RM of Lorne munici­pality, and that includes Notre Dame de Lourdes–and also the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

      So how many, like, are you working with a lot of com­mu­nities to making sure that everybody's on board when it comes to efficiencies across the province?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, that's a great question and, yes, we work very closely–Association of Manitoba Munici­palities is also on our Energy Efficiency Advisory Group.

      So through that contact, we do a lot of com­muni­cation with elected officials and the AMM proper. And for the com­mu­nity energy advocate program that you mentioned there, we–I believe we're partici­pating with four munici­palities on that, and so we work very closely to make sure that those energy advocates have the tools, resources and technical infor­ma­tion that they need to help disperse our programs into their com­mu­nities.

      And it's working very well. I don't know when our next intake will be. We're getting at when our next intake is, but I mean, bottom line, you know, I think we've all agreed we're under budget and we're starting to catch up on our energy savings and so I would say that any munici­pality that's ever interested in talking with Efficiency Manitoba to put an energy advocate in place for their com­mu­nity, we would certainly not turn down that op­por­tun­ity to partner.

Mr. Piwniuk: Thanks for the CEO for that great infor­ma­tion. But, also, I wanted to look at when it comes to busi­nesses, let's say, across the province. When it comes to the efficiencies, we've talked a lot about homeowners and what the savings are and some of the goals that we have when it comes to, you know, geothermal.

      But like with busi­nesses too, like, that's kind of the, like, the organi­zations that employ a lot of people in our great province. The importance is also is how many busi­nesses have actually embraced many programs that you guys actually–and the initiatives that you have in Efficiency Manitoba?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, our–we, our–the com­mercial market itself makes up a huge component of our energy savings projections, and so yes, we partici­pate and customers are partici­pating. I think some of them are even high­lighted in the annual report–are partici­pating in our programs in great numbers.

      I was at a conference a while back about–talking about multi-family buildings and the challenge of having multi-family buildings actually install energy efficiency. And I was sort of stunned by that, because in Manitoba, in our ex­per­ience, the multi-family industry participates heavily in our programs. So busi­nesses are definitely a target for our program.

      You know, we even understand that amongst busi­nesses, there's different types of busi­nesses. So we've actually developed a small-busi­ness program that really eliminates any of the barriers that a small busi­ness may face in trying to invest in energy efficiency.

      So we have a third-party contractor that goes to the site, has a look at what the op­por­tun­ities are, and while they're looking at the op­por­tun­ities they install some low-cost, no-cost measures, and then they give them a report on what a deeper retrofit could be, and primarily it's been lighting.

      And we offer an enhanced rebate for those small customers because, you know, we know that in terms of economies of scale, you know, the lighting contractor may not be able to give as great of a price for a very small busi­ness than they can for a massive warehouse. So we sort of enhance our incentives so that they can get a little bit more money and help them get through the process of making that installation and realizing those energy savings.

Mr. Piwniuk: And going into that small-busi­ness program, I guess we have that third party–and I believe it's Exofitt [phonetic], is that the company that we're looking at–which?

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, the–Ecofitt is–[interjection]–yes.

Mr. Piwniuk: So the thing is, one of the concerns that I had with one of my con­stit­uents is that they're able to do that, too, but at the same time, you know, one company's looking after all the province.

      Is that the most efficient way, Mr. Chair, to actually do the program, to–making sure that, you know, one company looks after the whole province? Like, the cost of going to certain com­mu­nities, there's added costs to that.

      But we also have small busi­nesses that can also do that, too, in the com­mu­nities, and I think that would be more efficient to actually look at allocating it to certain companies. Because again, these are small busi­­nesses; these are busi­nesses that we want succeed in the province of Manitoba, but we're actually using outside source to provide that program.

      So if there's some­thing that we can look at, sort of, using as a secondary market to make it more effi­cient, to actually have that small busi­ness be able–like I say, electricians across the province be able to do that type of work.

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, and so Ecofitt was–it was a ten­dered contract, so we did put that contract out there. And what I can say that's been very beneficial about that parti­cular contract and this parti­cular program and work is that it actually has resulted in the creation of green jobs. So those are Manitobans. And so that would be less so on the electrician side but more so on the advisors that are walking into the facility and doing the installs.

      So the other thing that Ecofitt is able to do is secure pricing, like large, bulk pricing for those low-cost, no-cost installations. So that helps keep the program cost-effective and then enable us to enhance, for example, the lighting retrofits and maintain the cost-effectiveness of the program through what they're able to secure in terms of pricing.

      But one of the things that Ecofitt does do–and I'm not sure if your con­stit­uent would be aware of that–but I know that when they're working in remote areas, I think they are actually contracting local electricians, if I'm not mistaken–[interjection]–yes, yes. So, an op­por­tun­ity for all to partici­pate and probably worth a reach out if there's, you know, someone that's serving a com­mu­nity that you're aware of, that they could reach out and we could connect the two.

MLA Khan: And I recog­nize the time is almost at an end here. I just want to, before we go farther, just to thank the CEO for two hours, 45 minutes, almost three hours of constant questions, and–all by yourself with the, you know, I know you've got your team behind you, but you're on the front line. So I want to thank the CEO for answering the questions today.

      Question–you know, a relatively easier one, from my point: The cumulative savings. So we had talked earlier about roughly the math I did. It was $14.2 million of savings in this annual report. Does the CEO have numbers of what the 'cumutalive' savings would be since Efficiency Manitoba came into existence, Mr. Chair?

* (12:10)

Ms. Kuruluk: So I do believe I have that answer, so I will grab it. But what I will say about the savings that are quoted in our annual report, and this is due to the nature of our energy savings target being in-year energy savings. So the numbers in the report on bill savings are in-year bill savings. So you're absolutely correct: those will be bill savings that persist for as long as the energy efficiency measure is installed.

      So I'll have to do some math here, but like, our first efficiency plan, $9.8 million in efficiency–in bill savings; our second year in operation, $13.7 million; and the final year, $14.2 million. But, of course that $9.8 million carries on for two years; the $13.7 million carries on for two years, and so on.

      And so as of today–if you wanted–I'm looking over my shoulder for someone to do quick math, but I can do it. It's going to be, like, roughly in the $70 million range of ongoing bill savings for customers, if I've done that right. Pretty close.

MLA Khan: I ap­pre­ciate the CEO, that's a very–it's a big exciting number. If you want to maybe, when you, I guess, provide or under­taking other stuff, if we can get that–just final number and a year-over-year, if maybe the CEO can under­take to, for the annual reports, year-over-year, just all of that.

      Because it is a great number, and it should be recog­nized for the hard work that Efficiency Manitoba is doing, and the direction of this province going forward.

      I guess the same question now is for energy savings as well, so we have our cost savings. Does the CEO have any numbers, and I know we–and again, in this annual report there's reference to electric and gas and a third one in there. Does the CEO, same question, have those same numbers for the previous three annual reports as well? And if not, can we get an under­taking to provide that in the next couple weeks, Mr. Chair?

Ms. Kuruluk: I will endeavour to get that, and again, the member has raised an im­por­tant point in that our savings are–our targets for savings are in-year. But yes, they do have an impact on customers for as long as the measure is installed. And we will–[interjection] Yes. Times three, times two, plus one.

      You know what, how about we endeavour to get you that, because I'm going to have to–the math on the first question was a lot easier than the math on 227.4 gigawatt hours in cumulative, if that's okay.

MLA Khan: Again, I want to thank the CEO for pro­vi­ding that and getting an under­taking of the cost savings and energy savings in the next few weeks. So again, thank you for you and your staff for every­thing that you are doing and going forward, and–that will conclude my questions. I'll pass it to my colleague, MLA Nesbitt.

Mr. Nesbitt: I want to thank the minister for being so candid in her comments today, and I know this is likely her first com­mit­tee. It's my first com­mit­tee in seven and a half years, too, so I want to thank you for your responses. I want to thank the CEO and her staff for answering our questions today to the best of their abilities, and the under­takings to provide to–couple undertakings, I think, to provide to this com­mit­tee in the next couple weeks would be ap­pre­ciated.

      I want to thank you, Mr. Chair, and the clerk for your partici­pation today, and again, I'm very proud of the work Efficiency Manitoba did in '22-23, and I have no reason to believe that that work won't continue over the next year.

      Thank you.

The Chairperson: Seeing no­–oh, sorry. Ms. Kuruluk.

Ms. Kuruluk: Yes, I'd like to thank the com­mit­tee as well. It's been the longest com­mit­tee I've ever sat in, but they've been great questions, and ap­pre­ciate that energy efficiency is a bipartisan issue and everybody cares about it, and as is our–all our wish to protect the environ­ment as well, so thank you everyone for your partici­pation.

MLA Schmidt: I just want to thank my com­mit­tee colleagues. I want to thank MLA–or I want to thank Mr. Khan and Mr. Nesbitt for their comments, and echo them.

      I want to just thank and con­gratu­late Ms. Kuruluk and her staff for a great year in 2022-23, an excellent com­mit­tee here today.

      I want to thank my com­mit­tee colleagues for their thoughtful questions and for the op­por­tun­ity to hear about the good work of Efficiency Manitoba.

      And I spe­cific­ally want to thank my critic, Mr. Nesbitt, and I sincerely look forward to working with you in this coming fiscal year on issues sur­rounding Efficiency Manitoba and the environ­ment and climate.

      And I think it's been a very productive meeting here today and I thank all the com­mit­tee members, including the Chair.

The Chairperson: Seeing no further questions, I will now put the question on the report.

      Annual Report of Efficiency Manitoba for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023–pass.

      The hour being 12:15, what is the will of the com­mit­tee?

Some Honourable Members: Com­mit­tee rise.

The Chairperson: The com­mit­tee will rise. Thank you.


Crown Corporations Vol. 4

TIME – 9:30 a.m.

LOCATION – Winnipeg, Manitoba

MLA Mike Moyes

MLA Robert Loiselle
(St. Boniface)


Members of the committee present:

Hon. Min. Schmidt

MLAs Loiselle, Moroz, Moyes,
Messrs. Nesbitt, Piwniuk


MLA Moroz for MLA Maloway
MLA Maloway for MLA Moroz
at 11:18 a.m.


Obby Khan, MLA for Fort Whyte

Ms. Colleen Kuruluk, Chief Executive Officer, Efficiency Manitoba


Annual Report of Efficiency Manitoba for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023

* * *