Okay, so we'll have Minister Philpott on the 20th and Minister Qualtrough on the 25th. We'll certainly advise you of that in writing via the calendar that will be sent out tomorrow.
Today, colleagues, we have before us some witnesses in house. I'd like to welcome, from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Mr. Matt Wayland. Thank you for being here with us. From the Public Service Alliance of Canada, we have two witnesses, Mr. Alex Silas and Mr. Paul Paquette.
We also have, via video conference, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada, with Hazel Sutton and Victoria Papp, who will be with us from Ontario. Thank you for being with us.
Also, from Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., we have Colleen Giroux-Schmidt, who is with us by video conference from British Columbia.
To all our witnesses, the order of speaking will be as follows. I will ask the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for their opening statement first, followed by the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Third, we will ask the Building Owners and Managers Association for their opening statement, and last but certainly not least, we will hear a statement from Innergex Renewable Energy Inc.
All of our witnesses have been briefed. We're asking you to make brief opening statements no longer than 10 minutes in duration.
After those opening comments, Mr. Wayland, the floor is yours.
Good afternoon, committee members, fellow witnesses and guests.
I'd like to thank you today for allowing us to present here to members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, and for your study on the Government of Canada's greening government strategy, as the chair mentioned.
I'm here today presenting on behalf of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or IBEW.
The IBEW represents 775,000 highly skilled workers in North America, and over 70,000 here in Canada. We represent workers of many different industries, such as manufacturing, telecommunications, utilities, construction, maintenance, motor and sign shops, radio and television, sound and alarm, railroads, shipyards, pulp and paper mills, mining, health care and government. Our members are in every province and territory of this country.
We're also an affiliate of Canada's Building Trades Unions, which represents about 500,000 men and women in the unionized construction sector. We build and maintain everything from roads to schools, from hospitals to wind turbines, from power plants to pipelines. The majority of our IBEW members, though, work in utilities and the construction sector, and they'll be the main focus of my presentation here today. I myself am a licensed construction and maintenance electrician, and I've worked in many facilities in my time as an electrician.
As I mentioned, we have members working in every province and territory, and whether you realize it or not, many of us in this room rely on the work of those workers here today. Some local examples that you will be familiar with include the updated electrical systems in West Block, which you just moved into last week. Those were done by the highly skilled electricians and apprentices of IBEW 586 here in Ottawa, and they're doing some of the upcoming work in Centre Block, which has just begun its renovations. Our members at Hydro Ottawa keep the lights on in the homes, businesses, and these buildings right here. They worked around the clock in the fall, just after the tornadoes, to make sure everybody had safe, reliable power quickly.
For the purpose of today's presentation, I'm going to focus on three areas that we believe will be an important part of your strategy: renovating the current building fleet, the economic impact and leading by example.
The World Green Building Council has called for all buildings to be net-zero by 2050 through construction and deep renovation. If you think of the buildings we have in Canada, that's an enormous number. Homes and buildings in this country account for 25% or one quarter of all emissions.
According to data obtained from the Treasury Board Secretariat's directory of federal real property, which looks after the federal government's property, there are 19,961 owned and leased properties, 36,361 buildings and 27,298,207 square metres of floor space. That is a significant number of buildings and a huge amount of floor space to be discussing. These buildings, much like the homes, condos and apartments you may live in, vary in size, age, building materials, geographical locations and so on.
There are a variety of ways the federal government can begin the strategy of greening government buildings. One of the major components in the building is its electrical system, or the nerve centre, as we like to call it. We should be considering the source of power feeding these individual buildings. That's the beginning of the source of our footprint. The majority of buildings in Canada are powered by an energy source from the utility provider, such as Hydro Ottawa here.
There are other areas, such as hydroelectric, nuclear, natural gas, or coal-fired, at least for the short term. These represent the four main sources of electricity in this country, and they themselves vary in GHG emissions and in their carbon footprint. IBEW builds and works on all of these types of generations, as well as many others, such as solar, wind, geothermal and so on.
However, buildings, especially the quantity the federal government owns and leases, have a significant number of rooftops that may be suitable for solar panel installation to help offset some of the energy used from the local grid and meet the goals of the strategy going forward, and maybe the goals of this committee.
Of course, we would need to ensure that each building can capture enough sunlight to make the investment and installation worthwhile, and have engineering drawings to make sure the building structure can properly handle the installation of a solar panel system. This is not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach or solution, but it should be considered as one of the green options in the building fleet.
We recommend the installation of solar panel systems on federal buildings that will receive a suitable level of sunshine without obstruction to produce enough energy and that will structurally allow such an installation.
Now, moving inside the building, in the building envelope, there are a number of upgrades that can be made to the electrical system alone to help reduce the energy consumed by the buildings, thus reducing the footprint and helping, again, to meet the needs and the strategy of the government.
Let's start with lighting. I'm sure we've all experienced poor lighting in older office buildings—most of us remember some of the incandescent light bulbs or flickering fluorescent tubes driving you nuts in the corner of your office, or outside, where you have commercial and industrial types of lighting such as high-pressure sodium, high-intensity discharge or HID, metal halide or even halogen bulbs. These are all examples of high-energy consumption lighting, but the lighting industry has seen significant improvements over the last decade, specifically in terms of light-emitting diodes, commonly referred to as LED lighting, which uses much less energy than the ones I mentioned above.
Surprisingly, a significant energy reduction can be achieved simply by replacing old lighting, even the fluorescent fixtures with which you might have replaced incandescent lighting a number of years ago. New LEDs have a bigger impact on reducing your footprint, provide brighter spaces in offices and will help meet improved performance needs within the individual buildings themselves for their individual purposes.
Not only can you change the lighting and the efficiency in the buildings, but the outside of the buildings should be considered as well. In many cases, we've seen our contractors install LED lighting outside, not to reduce energy costs but more as a safety factor, preventing the production of graffiti on the outside of some buildings in the commercial-industrial sector. Additionally, they are providing more lighting in parking lots, making employees feel safer in early morning hours and late in the evening, as well as helping to prevent slips and trips with their brightness.
We recommend that, as part of the renovation of any federal buildings considered that are leased or owned, energy-efficient LED lighting replace older, less efficient lighting inside and outside of the building envelopes.
Further improvements and efficiency of lighting can be made simply by installing lighting control systems and, ideally on a larger scale, a building automation system, which I'll highlight a little later on. A lighting control system is an intelligent network-based lighting control solution, sometimes called smart lighting, that incorporates communication between various devices in a building and its main computer running that system. Lighting control systems are widely used both indoors and outdoors, in commercial, industrial, institutional and—as many of you who have walked down the rows at Home Hardware or Home Deport might now know—the residential market as well. Lighting control systems serve to provide the right amount of light where and when needed, while meeting your energy saving needs.
How many times have you walked down the street or stayed in a hotel room, and you look across at an office building and you know the building is empty but it's lit up like a Christmas tree? These types of devices, occupancy sensors, can control when the lighting is on or off, regardless of the lighting system. Controlling what time of day the lights are turned on or off, along with other smart devices I mentioned, such as occupancy sensors, will help significantly reduce your energy consumption, increase the lifespan of those lights, and help meet your energy needs.
I'm going to venture back outside the building envelope for a minute. I talked about the parking lot area. Another addition that we suggest would be the inclusion of electrical vehicle charging stations, which are becoming more frequently spotted at your local shopping malls, schools and municipal, provincial and federal buildings. While this may not contribute to energy cost savings for the federal government or for the buildings they're placed in, it has an important place in the strategy for the government in its greening approach.
In the motion adopted by this committee, part of the study includes green procurement in areas such as vehicle fleet and electricity. Electrical vehicle charging stations installed at federal buildings should be included in your overall strategy to meet the upcoming needs before the fleet is purchased and you're asking, “Where am I going to plug this in?” This makes sure that you're not tapping into an existing electrical system that can't handle that overburdened load of adding three, four, 10 or 15 vehicles outside. You're also doing it at the front end, being proactive about your approach. This would ensure that the necessary charging infrastructure will be in place for your vehicle fleets, if and when you decide to convert from combustion to electric motors.
Our recommendation is to prepare a plan to equip federal buildings and the parking lot areas of federal buildings with a minimum number of charging stations and allow for the expansion of additional charging stations in the future based on your vehicle fleet plans.
I talked about building automation a little earlier in terms of the lighting control systems. That's one of the most significant ways you can green your government buildings, utilizing technology—
Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Alex Silas, and I'm the alternate regional executive vice-president for PSAC, national capital region. I'm here representing roughly 50,000 members in the NCR, most of whom are public servants. I'm also the vice-president of Local 71250, and I work in the downtown core as a security officer in one of our top-level security buildings.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to you today.
With me is Paul Paquette, vice-president of PSAC—Government Services Union Local 70023 and a stationary engineer at the Cliff Heating Plant, located next to the Supreme Court.
Paul and I both possess secret-level security clearance. Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of our work, we cannot discuss with you certain specific details, but we will cover generalities as best we can. We are here today to share with you our concerns about the proposed plan to privatize five of the centralized heating and cooling plants in the national capital region, along with their pipe and tunnel infrastructure.
The energy services acquisition program modernization plan proposes to accomplish four goals: to improve the government's environmental performance, to reduce costs, to improve the safety and reliability of heating and cooling, and to leverage the private sector's innovation capacity and expertise.
We are interested in working with the government towards achieving the first three of these goals. We would suggest that cutting costs and cutting corners, all too common in the private sector, will have a detrimental effect on improving performance and increasing safety. We contest the fourth goal of seeking out the private sector, as the evidence shows quite clearly that privatizing essential infrastructure, such as these heating plants, does not save money, does not result in better service, and is not in the best interest of the public.
The employer has, on several occasions, promised to provide for review the business case for this project, only to have the delivery date pushed back time after time, unfortunately.
We have three areas of concern with this project.
First, it's a public-private partnership, a P3. There's a significant body of empirical evidence to show that P3s don't save money and don't meet the level of service delivery necessary for quality public services. Governments around the world are bringing similar infrastructure back into the public sector for those reasons.
For example, in Hamilton, Ontario, a water and waste water P3 was brought back into the public sector after homes were flooded, raw sewage was dumped, and cost overruns were out of control. In Paris, France and Stuttgart, Germany, large infrastructure P3 projects for water and other necessary utilities are being brought back into the public sector because they haven't saved money and have failed to provide adequate services. Right here at home, in Ottawa, there have been long delays, cost overruns, and flooding problems with the city's light rail transit, or LRT, another P3 project.
Recently, a report by research and policy analyst Keith Reynolds, written for the Columbia Institute, reviewed 17 P3s in British Columbia. Overwhelming evidence was found that service goals were not met and costs were higher than they would have been in publicly delivered projects, costing the province's taxpayers an additional $3.7 billion.
It is well known that the risk assignment in P3 proposals is often erroneously weighted in favour of the private option, when in fact the public sector can borrow capital funds for less than private companies can, and public sector workers provide better service. Ultimately, governments always remain the sole owners and always underwrite the risk in these situations, regardless of attempts at risk avoidance or risk saving by transferring the responsibility to these private corporations. The public sector always ultimately carries the final risk, and the public will be responsible for picking up the pieces if and when these projects fail, while the private corporation steps away, shuts down, and changes its name. Everything in this country, from sea to sea to sea, is ultimately the responsibility of the Canadian government and the Canadian people.
Our second concern is about ethics in procurement. There are two consortia that have qualified for this project—Innovate Energy and Rideau Energy Partners—and both of these consortia include companies, including SNC-Lavalin, with documented reputations for gross financial mismanagement, substandard service delivery, and accusations of corruption internationally and right here at home in Canada.
The buildings heated by these plants are among Canada's most iconic and most secure, institutions that represent our national well-being. Do we really want to trust the heating and cooling of these historic buildings to greed-driven private operators? Do we really want international corporations that may change hands and change names to have access to our most secure spaces? As a security professional, I can tell you from my experience with privatization in the workplace that we've had repeated problems with private maintenance contractors under-delivering on service calls, providing slow and unreliable responses to emergency maintenance issues, not following protocols, and weakening overall security posture by creating gaps in our systems.
Our third concern, and the reason for these hearings, is that the assumed environmental impacts of these plants are misguided and will not be what they claim to be. We anticipate that there will be potentially devastating impacts on the environment that are not being considered. We are concerned about what will happen if there is a breach of the water pipes. Will this chemically treated water flood the city's sewer system? Will it flow into the Ottawa River? We're concerned about how much additional downtime for emergency repairs will be created to go along with these more time-consuming, low-temp hot-water systems.
We are concerned about the increased load this will put on municipal infrastructure. Considering we already have to switch from natural gas to oil on extremely cold days, would this increased load be feasible for the city? We are concerned about failures of these cooling systems and our top-level secure server rooms. Will that protected data be at risk? We are concerned that this will create a need for additional capacity elsewhere, including stand-alone boilers in individual buildings.
We are deeply concerned about safety, because we've been there. We'll never forget the 2009 explosion that killed one of our members, brother Peter Kennedy, when an uncertified private contractor was servicing a boiler at the Cliff Plant.
We are concerned about the health, safety and security of the workers in these buildings, and buildings like the one we're sitting in right now. Imagine if the heat cuts out on our -30° days. We are concerned about the health, safety and security of the general public, Ottawans who live in the downtown core, local businesses and visitors to our capital.
Instead of rushing into this project, we ask the following. We ask that this be conducted with transparency for the Canadian public. Make public the business case and the environmental case for this project. We ask that the request for proposals be cancelled as it currently exists. We ask that the government meet with the workers, the on-the-ground experts in these plants, our members, so that we may work together on a better plan of upgrades that meet environmental and safety goals. We ask that the RFP then be reissued as design-build only, with public sector workers involved in all aspects of the project, and that the operation and maintenance stay in the hands of trusted public servants. We ask that these plants stay in the public service. Finally, we ask that we as Canadians come together to recognize that, from coast to coast to coast, P3s don't work. Public servants work.
Thank you very much for having us. My name is Hazel Sutton. I am the manager of environmental standards. With me is Victoria Papp, program coordinator for environmental standards for BOMA.
We are with BOMA Canada, the Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada. It is a not-for-profit organization representing the Canadian commercial real estate industry on matters of national concern. We have over 3,100 members, representing 2.1 billion square feet of commercial real estate across the country.
Our members are building owners, managers, building operators, facility managers, leasing agents, brokers, investors and service providers. We have 11 local associations throughout the country, including one in Ottawa, BOMA Ottawa. You might be familiar with it. So we are very well represented across the country.
Part of what I wanted to speak about today is our program BOMA BEST, which some of you might already be familiar with. We've had a lot of participation from the federal government in this program. It is Canada's leading certification program for green buildings, for existing buildings. We have over 7,200 certifications or recertifications that have been obtained since the beginning of the program, back in 2005. We currently have over 28 certified buildings in Canada. We have also just recently certified a building in Mexico. We're very proud of that. We also have some certifications in the U.S., as well as some interest in China. We're very excited that this made-in-Canada program is being slowly adopted across the world.
It is a unique and voluntary program, designed by industry for industry, specifically recognizing the excellence in energy and environmental management and performance in commercial real estate. It is managed by us here at BOMA Canada, and it is delivered and administered by our 11 local associations across the country. The program consists of a framework that provides a holistic environmental assessment of the building's operations and management programs across 10 key areas. You'll recognize some of these areas as the areas of focus for us today. We look at energy, water, air, comfort, health and wellness, custodial, procurement, waste, site and stakeholder engagement. It is a questionnaire consisting of about 180 questions. Five levels of certification can be achieved, and it is literally open to every building type that exists.
Every certification is verified by a third party verifier to make sure that the integrity of the program is maintained. We pride ourselves on this program, that it is providing our buildings with a building management program. We understand that energy and maintenance represent 50% or more of operating expenses, and this is a huge opportunity for people to understand exactly where improvements can be made within their building operating systems at low to no cost, or with some costs should they wish to have some larger retrofits. The program is specifically tied to increasing building performance, as well as increasing the capacity of building operators and managers to further understand where opportunities lie within their buildings and to become more familiar with the operations.
The program specifically asks our users to understand how their building operates. First, we ask them to identify their intent specifically and, for each of the categories, the objective they're trying to reach in a particular category. For example, in the energy category, it might be energy conservation, energy reduction. Then we ask them to perform an assessment, to benchmark their performance at that moment, to understand exactly how they're performing. That would be an energy audit, for example, and then we recommend, through our subsequent sections, which management programs, policies and plans they might want to put in place to further improve their operations, as well as the kinds of technologies they might want to put in place. Mr. Wayland described quite a few of them, and we wholeheartedly support the technologies he described.
The program also provides a platform for monitoring carbon intensity, which is obviously a very important component in understanding how we can further reduce the impact of our buildings.
Ultimately, the program does assist our building managers to save money. We're really happy to see that, because as they reduce their energy consumption, they will be saving on operating costs, as well as reducing their GHG emissions, and we do know that recertification is associated with improved performance. We have a few different studies of certified and non-certified buildings that have been performed, and they are finding quite a lot of improvement at recertification: for example, a 25% reduction in energy consumption, a 30% reduction in water consumption and an 8% increase in diverted waste, waste which does not end up in a landfill. There are also some studies on occupancy rates. We know that there's higher occupancy satisfaction and higher tenant satisfaction. Higher rental rates can be commended for those spaces.
We are eager to work with the federal government to reduce the impact of buildings on our environment and on the climate. To that effect, 150 federal buildings have been put through the program just recently. They've just registered thanks to BGIS, the building management company that is working with the federal government on this particular portfolio. We're very happy to have those buildings with us in the program. This will help provide the government with real data to understand exactly how the buildings are performing and where opportunities lie to increase and improve that performance.
What I'd like to also speak about is the topic of resilience. This is one area of focus that was mentioned, and this is an area that we have just recently added to our assessment. We are asking our building owners and managers to let us know to what extent they're performing short-term and long-term risk assessments, and then acting on the results of those risk assessments and planning for what may occur. We understand that buildings are vulnerable to the impacts of short-term and long-term extreme climate change—risks such as flooding—and so part of what we're looking for through resilience is the ability to prepare and plan for adverse extreme weather events, absorb and recover from them successfully, and then evolve to an improved state. Ultimately, we want these buildings to maintain their function in the face of shocks and stressors imposed by climate change, while also creating lasting value.
What we've done, specifically what my colleague Victoria Papp has done, is work directly on this resilience brief, which I'm happy to share with you. It's free for anyone to download from our website. We can send you the link. It is a 10-page document that summarizes what resilience means, what we are looking for, where the risks might lie—for example, flooding or wildfires—and what buildings may want to do and consider to start preparing themselves against these risks and make sure that they can continue to function in the face of adverse climate change.
I'll give you a few examples that we're looking at specifically: stormwater capture systems and whether those are installed on buildings to funnel the stormwater that may be coming; the installation of green roofs and walls to further absorb water; crisis management programs; flood mapping, whether you know where your buildings are located and what they will be susceptible to in the future; and increasing tree planting and/or the creation of green spaces.
Finally, what I'd like to share with you is that BOMA Canada is working with a very wide group of stakeholders on a resilience assessment protocol. It is in draft format right now. We've been working on it for a few years. It provides building managers with a list of the areas of concern to business continuity and resilience that they'll want to focus on to make sure they're able to continue functioning. We are looking at the construction features, at the heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, and at the electrical transformers and switch gear, specifically where those are located. Are they going to be able to withstand flooding, for example? If they're on the ground floor, they might not.
Is there a good communication system in place to be able to communicate to the building tenants and to any other stakeholders what is happening? Where is the backup power? How does that work? For example, are the elevators programmed not to go all the way to the bottom floor if it is flooded? Do you know where your building documentation is? Is it susceptible to being lost? In terms of your waste disposal and collection locations—for example, if you have some hazardous waste—do we know that the waste won't get caught up in some flood water? To continue with the example of flooding, in terms of the building condition and envelope—again, this is obviously very important—are you susceptible to leaks and some water damage that way?
Really, it's just an overall flooding and stormwater management program. It's a checklist. It's an assessment. It provides guidance and a framework for building managers to start understanding where the risks lie for them and to start being able to act on this. Again, this is in draft format. We're very excited to be working on it. We're always looking for additional feedback.
That concludes my statement today. Thank you.
My name is Colleen Giroux-Schmidt, and I am the vice-president of corporate relations here at Innergex Renewable Energy. In addition to my role at Innergex, I was part of the Generation Energy Council, which submitted its report to the federal government in June 2018.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today and share our thoughts on the opportunities the greening government initiative holds for Canada.
For those on the committee not familiar with Innergex Renewable Energy, we are a leading Canadian renewable energy producer. We've been active since 1990. We develop, own and operate wind, solar, and small hydro and geothermal facilities, and we carry out our operations with more than 300 employees across Canada—in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia—as well as in the United States, France, Chile and Iceland. We are a publicly traded company, and our shares are listed on the TSX under the symbol INE.
Innergex is 100% committed to renewable energy. While our company began with small-scale hydro in Quebec, we have expanded beyond that to now have a broadly diversified portfolio of projects, both geographically and by technology. In addition to our 68 operating assets, we are actively building the largest solar farm in Texas. We also just signed two contracts with the utility in Hawaii for solar plus storage projects.
Partnerships form the basis of our operations here and abroad, whether they be with indigenous and non-indigenous communities as equity partners in our projects, with our local contractors and suppliers, or with our customers. We have collaborated and built partnership-based relationships with multiple communities across our operating facilities and development projects. Innergex was the partner on the first municipal-partnered wind farm in Quebec, and we have multiple equity-partnered projects with indigenous communities across the country. We understand that our business is more sustainable when we are working together to build a safer, cleaner and more resilient electricity system for today and for future generations.
We know that greenhouse gas emission reduction is a critical global imperative, and we also know that switching to renewable electricity is a key way to achieve emission reductions. Innergex is proud of our Canadian roots, and we see opportunities for the kinds of projects that we develop to help Canada both to meet its goals within the greening government program and broader regional economic development, and to create indigenous economic opportunities.
We applaud the greening government initiative and the acknowledgement that one of the best tools an organization has for driving change is its procurement policy.
Increasingly, customers are the driver of change in the energy space. Just last week, Bloomberg New Energy Finance released its 2019 corporate energy market outlook. I mention it because in 2018, corporations bought a record amount of clean energy through power purchase agreements, or PPAs. Some 13.4 gigawatts of clean energy contracts were signed by 121 corporations in 21 different countries. This is up from 6.1 gigawatts in 2017.
This is a significant shift and reinforces the overall trend to shift toward renewable energy. While utilizing procurement policy to enable the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is a critical piece of this, we also see significant opportunity for the Government of Canada to do more.
The procurement of renewable energy can be used as a driving force to revitalize indigenous and non-indigenous rural communities across Canada. There is an untapped opportunity to leverage the build-out of the renewable energy sector to bring new jobs and economic development, and to allow communities to take an active role in the transition to the 21st century low-carbon economy.
Innergex has experienced first-hand the impact that renewable energy projects can have when the local community plays a partnership role in the project. We believe that these partnerships are an indispensable part of the future of renewable energy development. We know that there is significant interest in communities to develop these projects.
As you're aware, one third of Canada's indigenous communities are here in British Columbia. A survey of indigenous clean energy published by the BC First Nations Clean Energy Working Group, in partnership with the University of Victoria's school of environmental studies and Clean Energy BC, demonstrated a widespread involvement and interest in renewable energy among indigenous communities in B.C., with half of the 105 respondents already involved in the clean energy industry in some way, from ownership to receiving royalties, and 98% of respondents indicating that they are or would like to be more involved.
However, communities have also identified significant barriers to participation in the industry. The majority of indigenous community survey respondents, 75%, indicated that they have projects in mind that they have not yet pursued or been able to pursue. They identified three primary barriers to developing these projects: lack of project opportunity, lack of community readiness, and difficulty securing financing.
Innergex notes from our experience working in multiple provinces across this country that this level of interest exists throughout Canada. We believe that strategic federal government procurement of renewable electricity can help address the first hurdle.
I'd like to take a moment to share with you the story of Kwoiek Creek and the Kanaka Bar Indian Band.
In 1978, the community, located near Boston Bar in the Fraser Canyon of British Columbia, started to think about developing a small hydro project. This is a region that had not seen economic activity since the railway and the highway were built. They worked over the next two decades to build community support for the project, and in the 1990s applied for the water licence. They worked with a couple of other companies before choosing Innergex to be their partner in the development of the project.
We became involved in the early 2000s, and with Kanaka Bar took the project through a comprehensive environmental assessment, were successful in a competitive procurement process and constructed the project. We began commercial operations five years ago, and the Kanaka Bar Indian Band owns 50% of this 50-megawatt project.
This, on its own, is a significant achievement, but the story doesn't stop there. Kanaka Bar has reinvested their portion of the revenue back into their community. They have done community solar, are working to become self-sufficient with food, have built community housing, and employ 20-plus youth on an annual basis. They have become one of the key economic drivers in the region.
This is a remarkable achievement, and one that we are proud to have witnessed and contributed to. More importantly, it is one that we believe is repeatable across the country. We believe that the Government of Canada could build on the foundation of greening government and deploy strategic government procurement policy to enable indigenous economic opportunities by procuring renewable electricity from projects with significant indigenous partnership and ownership. To achieve this, we strongly encourage you to aggregate the procurement opportunities so they can enable projects of significance.
We also believe that government process and organization must be streamlined to enable procurement. We are in an era where the challenges we are facing are multi-faceted and complex, and the solutions must also be multi-faceted. This requires an enhanced level of collaboration and leadership across agencies and ministries.
Canada has made the commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and has the opportunity to lead the world in the energy transition. The business case for it is abundant. The signals from multinational business leaders are clear, and our neighbours are poised for action.
By making a strong commitment to demonstrating leadership through strategic procurement of renewable electricity, with strong indigenous partnerships, Canada can both reduce our greenhouse gas emissions within our own borders, and also unlock unprecedented opportunities for economic benefits in indigenous and non-indigenous communities across the country.
Thank you very much for your time, and we look forward to your questions.
Initially, when they were looking into this, they had visited Amsterdam and a plant in France, which run on low-temperature hot water. Low-temperature hot water has to be below the boiling point—so, below 212°F or 100°C. That works there, because their climate is relatively stable at an average temperature of over 8°C or so, but here it wouldn't really work that well.
I'll use one hot water system as an example. Confederation Heights is running at 375°F right now. It's a high-temperature installation. We know that global warming is happening. I don't know if anyone is a non-believer, but I'm a believer, with all the weather events we're experiencing, especially the tornado that just ripped through and took out our substation at Merivale.
When you produce steam, you need only a small electrical pump to pump water into the boiler. The natural gas does the work: It pressurizes the boiler, and the steam flows from a high pressure to a low pressure. There are no pumps required. When we lost that substation, we were able to keep the steam plant going with a relatively small diesel generator, and we could do it infinitely, as long as we had diesel.
If you go to a hot-water system to try to supply the whole downtown core—and they're even talking about supplying Tunney's Pasture, Portage, and Terrasses de la Chaudière—you're going to need a system that would be huge, electrically. You would need pumps.
Right now, our chill system has over one million gallons in it. If they were to implement this heating system, it would have at least two million gallons of treated molybdate hot water. There will be chemicals in this hot-water system.
Whenever you do a plant shutdown and you're actually physically going to shut down the system and work on it, weld on it or cut on it, you have to drain it. You could literally have hundreds of thousands of gallons that will have to be drained from that system, and there's nowhere to put it. It has to go in the river, and that molybdate is going in there.
Steam is self-draining, and you don't need pumps to pump it. It goes from one area to another. It is designed for our climate.
Initially, when they said low-temperature, we said it couldn't be done. I heard last week that they've increased the temperature to 150°C. We're getting closer to where it may happen and could work, but it still doesn't stop some of the major issues with hot water when you're right beside a river system. The fish are going to drink it; we're going to drink it, and that's just not a great idea.
Thank you so much, Mr. Chair.
It's a real pleasure for me to talk to you today.
First, I want to pay a serious and sincere tribute to Michael Ferguson. I was terribly moved by the news of his death. I didn't know that he was sick, which shows how he remained professional until the end of his life. He was a decent and honest man with integrity. He became bilingual past the normal age for becoming bilingual, which shows that we can always achieve this great Canadian goal. I want to express my condolences to Mr. Ferguson's family and loved ones.
I want to welcome everyone to your House of Commons.
My topic today is the wind turbine. As we know, if we want to look at new ways of producing energy, wind turbines are one of them. In Quebec, we've had a great experience with this and there has been movement during the last few years.
I remember quite well that when I was a member of the National Assembly in 2014, I was a strong advocate of making good use of public money. This is why I was very upset to realize that wind turbine energy costs three times as much as hydroelectricity in Quebec.
I used to say all the time that if it cost three times as much, it cost three times too much. That was in 2014. The situation has improved in Quebec, but not in a very convincing way.
Last August, Quebec's auditor general concluded that it wasn't cost-effective in Quebec to produce electricity using wind turbines.
There was also a major project proposed in Quebec by an indigenous community, with the support of a private company. Last August, the president of Hydro-Québec announced that, according to the Crown corporation's findings, wind energy, and specifically this project, could generate losses of $2 billion. As a result, Mr. Legault, the recently elected premier, stated on November 29, 2018, in Wendake, which happens to be in my constituency, that he wouldn't proceed as long as Hydro-Québec had surplus energy.
I have a question for Ms. Giroux-Schmidt, from Innergex. It should be mentioned that this company is heavily involved in wind energy in Quebec and is successful in that field. I want to acknowledge the company's recent major investment of $630 million in August to purchase five wind farms.
My question is very simple. Are we able to produce electricity from wind energy without costing taxpayers any money?