David Coon says NB Power to hire Ontario firm for energy audits

15 MAY 2015

CBC News Posted: May 14, 2015

Green Party Leader David Coon says NB Power will use a Toronto-based company to do home energy evaluations under a new home insulation program, which has yet to be officially announced.

However, Coon says the move has already forced three of the four New Brunswick companies that did energy audits previously to close and the fourth company has had to lay off staff.

"This is not in New Brunswick's best interest," said Coon in a statement. "We should be strengthening our economy by supporting local business and job creation rather than contracting for services out of province.

"Contracting out kills local jobs."

Energy Minister Donald Arseneault accused Coon of "fear-mongering" when responding to his question on the topic during question period in the legislature on Thursday.

"I would encourage him not to fear-monger by saying that people are being put out of their jobs. That is not the case," said Arseneault.

"There are many programs that the efficiency division actually provides to New Brunswickers. Various companies actually provide that work on behalf of NB Power now," he said.

"The company in question went through a tendering process, a very open and transparent tendering process that was done by the department of government services and it won the contract, but that did not take away any work from other companies."

Arseneault said the new company "is not going to be the sole provider of efficiency programs."

"I have talked to the companies that he assumes are going to close shop. I have talked to those companies. They are not going to close shop."

NB Power took over the mandate of Efficiency New Brunswick on April 1 when the Gallant government shut down the Crown corporation.

Efficiency New Brunswick was responsible for energy efficiency grants to New Brunswickers. Its first president and CEO was former New Democratic Party leader Elizabeth Weir. She was succeeded by Margaret-Ann Blaney, who left David Alward's Progressive Conservative cabinet in 2012 to take on the role. 

In December, the Gallant government announced it would be folding the Crown corporation into NB Power.

"[NB Power] inherited the responsibility to develop an energy efficiency services industry to create jobs in New Brunswick," said Coon. "Instead, it's first move was to replace New Brunswick's fledgling energy audit industry" with one Ontario-based company in contract with NB Power.