City of Guelph Community Energy Plan Final Report

For over two centuries, the ready availability of low cost energy has allowed the world’s industrialized countries to achieve unprecedented levels of well being and prosperity. Recent dramatic increases in costs and price volatility are putting the spotlight globally on how effectively we use energy. The rapid growth of China and India is putting further pressure on the world’s energy supplies and climate. Despite its plentiful energy resources, Canada is increasingly exposed to the full force of the global energy market pressures and can look forward to energy costs trading upwards combined with pricing uncertainty.

The evidence is growing that the human use of energy is causing greenhouse gas emissions that are beginning to have significant effects on the climate. Recent opinion polls indicate that this is now viewed as the most critical issue for most Canadians, underlined by the renewed political commitment to meet international greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Over half of the world’s population lives in cities, and in Canada that proportion is closer to 80%.

Of all the energy used in Canada, over half is for buildings, homes, and transportation within cities. Homes and buildings use over 30% of all energy in the country and consume more than half of all the electricity. Cities are increasingly recognizing that the quality of life and competitiveness will in part be driven by how effectively they manage the use of their energy and water resources.

Guelph’s leaders recognized the growing importance of effective management of energy and water to the economy and environment, and in 2004 formed a Consortium to proactively develop a community energy plan. The Consortium represents all facets of the community including the administration, academia, business, the gas and electric utilities, and other community groups. In 2006, the Consortium decided to formalize a long-term Community Energy Plan (CEP) which would guide the city’s energy future for years to come. The CEP
team had a balanced mix of local and global expertise ensuring the plan incorporated the best elements of urban energy management from around the world.

Guelph, with its current population of 115,000, plus an additional 18,000 students during the academic year, is a thriving town well situated in the “Golden Triangle”, an area to the west of Toronto that is attracting significant growth. Guelph’s population is expected to grow to 180,000, probably within its current boundaries, supported by significant commercial and industrial development.
In rough numbers, the growth will add about 20,000 homes and somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 square meters of non-residential construction, along with significant industrial growth.

To support this growth, the city has made a commitment to implement an energy plan that will ensure the long-term competitiveness and environmental performance of the city. The Guelph CEP was developed to be much more than an inspirational statement. It was created very much with implementation in mind. For this reason the team looked at success stories from the USA, Canada and Europe to adopt the best ideas that had clearly worked elsewhere. All of these success stories underlined the need to take a long-term, multi-decade view and to have community leadership that ensured long-term, consistent implementation of the basic strategies year after year. Another key element was to see the energy supply of the city as an integrated whole.

To read the full report click here.

Community Energy Plan Public Forum Summary