It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 months since I was elected mayor, and while we’ve begun to accomplish a number of items, there is still so much yet to do!
I think we’ve made some wonderful inroads in developing a new culture throughout city hall, and around the community for that matter, which is focused on the betterment of the city on the whole.
While we’re making progress in a number of areas, I also turned my attention to the city’s Community Energy Initiative (C.E.I) policy for the past few months to examine how this is supposed to encourage green energy jobs in the community, further our city’s economic prosperity and help our environment.
I’m sure it goes without saying that with this being my blog, it should be obvious that these are my opinions alone. However, I want to be clear, what you continue to read on this subject is only my opinion alone. Not all of council and not city staff. Just mine.
I recall when I was interviewed by the Guelph Mercury about my first 100 days in office that the article stated:
“Guthrie is in the process of getting briefed on things like the Energy Initiative,”
Indeed! I was being briefed.
During this time of evaluation, I consistently kept asking myself a key question :
“Many projects undertaken in support of the C.E.I may be somewhat visible, but are they viable?”
As I have always said, my commitment as mayor is to be open, transparent and willing to challenge the status-quo.
For further transparency, I was looking forward to an internal audit on our Community Energy Initiative this year. My reasoning was that the C.E.I is now several years old. It was ushered-in in 2007 and I felt it was time to check in on it again to determine it’s effectiveness, challenges and future opportunities for our community.
Although a report (starts on page 62) was presented to council highlighting 2012 data, that was before many of the larger capital projects had taken place.
Internally to city hall I think we need to see what areas of the C.E.I are working or what areas are not. Where could we reallocate funds to make a bigger difference? Or where should we re-focus our efforts? Should we spend less or more? Should there be business cases required before we move ahead on projects? Technological advances in this area have grown leaps and bounds since 2007! Are we concentrating on the right technology or is there something better out there? What about district energy or solar? Perhaps we concentrate only on the upcoming G.E.E.R.S program? Is the governance structure and oversight, (using Envida), setup properly to help us implement the C.E.I? Should we, the government, be involved in this at all? And many more questions…
Externally to the taxpayers it was simple. I think they need to know they’re getting value for the money spent on these C.E.I projects, along with realizing the environmental and social benefits promised to them.
The C.E.I set out lofty goals:
- Use less energy in 25 years than we do today
- Consume less energy per capita than comparable Canadian cities
- Produce less greenhouse gas per capita than the current global average
Guelph’s District Energy Network Will:
- Provide at least 50 per cent of Guelph’s total heating needs
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heating
- Contribute significantly to goals of Community Energy Initiative
If we as a city are stating these goals publicly, and the C.E.I policy, framework and current governance and oversight structure are setup to help direct us to achieve those goals, then perhaps we should make sure they’re realistic and that we’re actually making a positive difference.
This is why very soon the community will see on an upcoming council agenda a request from me for staff to explore the best way to present a progress report on the C.E.I and to explore the best governance and oversight structure for implementing it.
I hope that along with my council colleagues and the community we can embrace this opportunity for such a report and make sure we’re on the right course.
I want to encourage all of us in the weeks ahead to demonstrate in a tangible way that we are good stewards of the public purse and continue to be open and transparent with every stakeholder and taxpayer on this issue.
My objective is to confidently state, with no reservations or hesitations, that the C.E.I is both visible and viable to our community.