FREDERICTON (GNB) – Recently appointed Auditor General Paul Martin tabled his first report today in the legislative assembly, highlighting various concerns with the province’s Residential Energy Efficiency programs. The auditees were the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development and NB Power.

“Energy efficiency programs are key to addressing climate change and greenhouse gas emissions while helping households spend less on energy bills,” said Martin. “We were curious to see how New Brunswick compared to other Atlantic provinces and found that the province spends significantly less on energy efficiency programs per capita than Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.”

An issue highlighted in the report is that many households are unable to invest in the up-front costs of energy efficiency upgrades that would qualify for NB Power’s energy efficiency programs. This is in part because the department did not mandate NB Power to implement a financing mechanism for those who do not have the upfront capital to complete necessary work.

The report also found that neither the department nor NB Power had a sustainable funding source for all-fuel (oil, gas, propane) residential energy efficiency programs in place. Overall, NB Power did not adequately address the barriers of low- and moderate-income New Brunswickers and non-electric households to access energy efficiency programs.

The audit also found that NB Power has been effective in delivering current residential energy efficiency programs to those who are able to participate but lacks public reporting on these programs. However, the department was not effective in providing oversight for energy efficiency programs as it did not set energy saving targets for NB Power.

“We also noted that the department never challenged targets set by NB Power for energy efficiency even when those targets were lowered by NB Power,” said Martin. “In my view, these oversight and accountability gaps impede the province’s ability to make the desired progress in energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction.”

The auditor general made seven recommendations to address these outstanding issues in his report which is available online.