On January 16, 2013, Councillors were faced with proposed cuts to important programs that reduce energy use. Instead, Council agreed to a new way to finance energy retrofits for buildings in Toronto that improves on the Sustainable Energy Revolving Loan Fund.
The Sustainable Energy Revolving Loan Fund of $60 million provided low interest loans to city-owned, non-profit and privately owned buildings to undertake energy efficiency projects. The Mayor's budget would have eliminated the Fund, removing support for non-profit and privately owned buildings.
Instead, over 80% of Councillors voted to continue providing loans for energy efficiency projects in non-city buildings. With the new program, the City will be able to borrow money at low interest rates, and lend it to building owners to do energy retrofits that will lead to real energy reductions. The financial savings from these reductions will be used to pay back the city loan and any administrative costs.
In other words, for virtually no cost, the City will be supporting energy retrofits and green jobs. As well, the new program can lend out substantially more than $60 million that was in the Sustainable Energy Loan fund.
Council's vote confirms support for Community-Based green energy projects across the City, which will help Torontonians save energy and address climate change (see Motion 8 of the final decision here).
Because of this new program, the $60 million in the Sustainable Energy Revolving Loan Fund is no longer needed, and has been earmarked for Forestry programs to address the Emeral Ash Borer crisis facing Toronto's urban forest.
Thank you! This important vote is a result of the hard work of public pressure and of Councillors working hard to find solutions.
While TEA and our members put public pressure on Councillors and city officials not to cut City investment in energy retrofits, a group of councillors led by Councillor Gord Perks, did behind-the-scenes work to develop this new program and build Council support for it. A big thank you to all involved!
As we first noted in an October Issue of Council Watch, city staff wanted to eliminate a $60 million Sustainable Energy Revolving Loan Fund that has helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions and electricity use as well as create thousands of green jobs. The Fund loaned money to mostly not-for-profit and private building owners to perform energy retrofits. Once the loan is paid back, the money is lent out again.
The budget proposed to eliminate the Fund and use the $60 million for one-time funding to deal with the Emerald Ash Borer crisis facing Toronto’s urban forest instead of finding money elsewhere.
TEA urged the City’s Executive Committee to maintain the Fund, which played an important role in getting us ready for extremely hot summers due to climate change. We’ve also urged City Councillors to look elsewhere for the roughly $10 million needed annually over the next few years to deal with the Emerald Ash Borer issue.