Natural gas exit | Cities must have a favorable opinion from Pierre Fitzgibbon

(Quebec) Municipalities, such as Montreal and Prévost, which have already adopted a by-law to reduce the use of natural gas will be able to keep it, but mayors who wish to follow in their footsteps will first have to obtain a favorable opinion from Pierre Fitzgibbon and the Ministry of Energy.




This acquired rights clause (colloquially called “grandfather clause”) was added in an amendment tabled last week by Minister Benoit Charette as part of the study of the bill on the environmental performance of buildings, on the point of being adopted (see capsules).

In January, the minister indicated that he would table a draft regulation that prevents cities from going it alone to ban natural gas connections, because they do not have “the expertise to determine the impact of their decision on energy security” of Quebec.

Read the article “Cities will no longer be able to ban natural gas without Quebec’s agreement”

Montreal was targeted, since it adopted a regulation which “prohibits heating appliances that emit GHGs such as those operating with fuel such as oil or gas in new construction in the residential, commercial and institutional sectors”.

Mr. Charette softens his position a little with this clause, but does not want regulations to multiply. His fear: that a multitude of cities each take, in an “isolated” manner, ideas which “may seem good”, but which, together, can have an “impact” on the energy security of Quebec.

The minister maintains that he himself will table, in the coming weeks, a regulation to prohibit new gas connections for certain types of buildings. But in other cases, he favors dual-energy heating systems, where natural gas can take over to heat a building during winter peaks.

Once this regulation is adopted, cities will be able to request permission to “go further”.

PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks

There will have to be consultation with the Ministry of Energy. It won’t be a de facto no. (…) Hydro-Québec explained it well: at times, it is not a definitive no, but Hydro-Québec’s installations are not developed to accommodate this (electrical) demand.

Benoit Charette, Minister of the Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks

For its part, the Ministry of Energy affirms that it is “premature” to share the criteria on which it will base itself to draft its opinion since the bill “has not yet been adopted”.

Fitzgibbon’s arbitration

For Quebec Solidaire MP Alejandra Zaga Mendez, this is not the ideal situation.

It will be Pierre Fitzgibbon who will have a look at whether or not we have the energy available to electrify the heating of buildings. But it is a political choice to conserve energy for a large company rather than electrifying neighborhoods in Laval or Longueuil, for example.

Alejandra Zaga Mendez, Member of Parliament for Québec Solidaire

Mme Zaga Mendez sees adding a grandfather clause as a “half win.” “If we implement dual energy in 2024, this system will still be good for 20-25 years. But 2050 is our goal of carbon neutrality,” she laments.

She is also pleased with the fact that Mr. Charette reduced the “precedence” clause that he had put forward in the bill to the energy sector. “For everything that does not affect energy, for example, standards for green roofs, for window insulation, cities will be able to go further,” she says.

The bill on the environmental performance of buildings is about to be adopted. Quebec says it will give it the tools to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the buildings sector by establishing reporting, rating and environmental performance standards for large buildings.

A tight schedule, energy ratings

Quebec wants to reduce its GHG emissions by 60% by 2030 in the institutional buildings sector to achieve its climate targets. But time is running out: after the adoption of the bill, Minister Benoit Charette must table a series of regulations to make it effective, and the timetable is quite tight.

  • 2025: building owners will have to make a declaration on their energy consumption.
  • 2026: they will receive an energy rating.
  • 2028: an environmental performance standard will be created, and institutional buildings will have to comply with it.
  • For other buildings (very large, large and medium in terms of surface area), performance standards will be implemented in 2029, 2030 and 2031.

Residential is not there

PHOTO HUGO-SÉBASTIEN AUBERT, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

An oven running on natural gas

Québec solidaire deplores that the residential sector is not included in the Quebec government’s energy performance rating system. “We would have liked to see a much tighter plan, which includes residential, with transition measures,” says Alejandra Zaga Mendez. Minister Charette replies that moving too quickly by forcing the residential sector to improve its energy balance could accentuate the housing crisis. It may, however, be added in the future, by a simple regulation.

Additions to the Construction Code

PHOTO MARCO CAMPANOZZI, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Minister Benoit Charette intends to adopt a regulation forcing manufacturers to install wiring for recharging electric cars in buildings with more than five new housing units.

With his law, Minister Charette will be able to make additions to the Quebec Construction Code to make buildings greener. He recalls that the buildings sector is responsible for 9.6% of total GHG emissions in Quebec according to 2020 data, and that his government wants to reduce GHG emissions linked to the heating of buildings by 50% in 2030 compared to 1990. The example that the minister gives is, however, not linked to the insulation of buildings: he intends to adopt a regulation forcing builders to install wiring for recharging electric cars in buildings with more than five new homes. Quebec will also give 108 million in subsidies to “help install wiring in existing buildings”.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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