Energy-efficiency funding programs provide $2.185 billion in incentives

Since the Doug Ford lead Progressive Conservative government of Ontario was elected in June 2018, we’ve seen several incentive programs cancelled. Many were part of the $8 billion Green ON program aimed at helping businesses and consumers reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Green ON funding provided incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, energy-efficient windows, furnaces, air conditioners, boilers and upgrading to more energy-efficient equipment and machinery. The cancellation left many businesses asking if any funding programs are currently available. The answer is yes. There still are many lucrative energy-efficiency funding programs available in Ontario – and across Canada. In fact, as a prelude to the upcoming federal election, we’ve seen a few new funding programs added.

Provincial Hydro Rebate Program: Up to $400 million

In 2014, the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) which oversees electricity in Ontario, launched $400 million in incentive programs for businesses to become more energy efficient. By becoming more energy efficient, companies are incentivized while at the same time enjoying reduced hydro bills on an ongoing basis. IESO funding, while it changes on a year-to-year basis, is currently available through every hydro company in Ontario. Reducing hydro use is not just a province of Ontario mandate; it’s a worldwide issue. For this reason, we see similar hydro rebate incentive programs in all Canadian provinces and most U.S. states.

Lighting and air conditioning: Save up to 70% of hydro costs

Funding includes replacing current lighting with new energy-efficient LED bulbs. LED lighting provides the same amount of light using far less wattage, which leads to lower hydro bills. For example, 60-watt bulbs can be replaced with 13-watt LED bulbs that provide the same, if not more, brightness. For manufacturing companies, replacing existing fluorescent tubes with LEDs can save as much as 70% on their hydro bill. In many cases, when companies replace their lighting with LED, they actually require fewer bulbs for the same about of brightness. The Hydro Rebate program provides a rebate on lighting fixtures, lighting and installation. Rebates are usually in the 25% range. Most companies that apply for rebates see their return on investment in just one year, in addition to savings on hydro bills. The Hydro Rebate program also applies to replacing existing exterior lighting and fixtures with LED lighting. Exterior bulbs use up to 400 watts per bulb. These can be replaced with 133-watt LED bulbs, providing brighter lighting – in most cases – at one-third the power consumption. Air conditioners are also covered under the Hydro Rebate program. If your company is looking to replace old air conditioning with a new energy-efficient unit of at least 13 SEER, your company is eligible for a rebate of up to $1,000 per unit.

How do I receive funding?

You’ll need to apply for funding before you start the retrofit project. The retrofit application will take 6-8 weeks to be processed. Once you receive approval, you have up to December 31, 2020 to complete the retrofit work and submit the invoices and proof-of-payment to the IESO. If you’re planning a lighting retrofit or air conditioning replacement next year, it’s a good idea to apply for your rebates now and get them approved while funds are still available. Remember, you have until the end of next year to complete your project.

Electric vehicles: Up to $13,000 per vehicle

When the Green ON program was introduced in August 2017, we began to see a steady increase in the number of electric vehicles on the road. Once Doug Ford was elected, he cancelled the $8 billion Green ON funding program in June 2018. In doing so, Ford also cancelled Ontario’s Electric Vehicle rebate program which offered rebates at point-of-purchase of up to $13,000 on electric vehicles. As a result, electric vehicles that were on back-ordered were all cancelled. Since then, electric vehicle purchases in Ontario have stagnated. With global warming being an international concern, countries around the world, including China and the USA, have begun to offer incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. It’s not surprising then, that the federal government, seeing electric vehicles as a current global trend, introduced their own rebate incentives. The $300 million Federal Electric Vehicle rebate program took effect May 2 of 2019 offering rebates on the purchase of a new or leased electric vehicle. The program will be in place for the next three years.

How much are federal electric-vehicle rebates?

The federal government offers electric-vehicles rebates of up to $5,000. British Columbia and Quebec also offer them. If you live in these provinces, you can apply for both provincial and federal electric-vehicle rebates. This would result in a maximum rebate of $8,000 in BC and $13,000 in Quebec.

Getting your rebate after purchase

Most people will want their electric-vehicle rebate deducted from the purchase or lease cost of their car. If you purchased or leased an electric car after May 2, 2019, and were not aware of the rebate, you can still apply for it. The following application will need to be completed by the dealership you purchased your electric vehicle from:

Getting your electric-vehicle rebate

If you plan on purchasing an electric vehicle in the near future, all electric-vehicle rebates are offered from the dealership. Businesses can purchase up to 10 vehicles per year and receive the rebate. To find out more on vehicles that qualify for funding go to:

Climate Action Incentive Fund: $1.45 billion

Smart Green, another Green ON funding program, was also cancelled by the Ford government in June, 2018. Smart Green provided financial assistance to manufacturing businesses to become more energy efficient. This included funding of up to 50% of costs related to upgrading equipment, machinery, lighting, furnaces and air conditioning. To address this void in greenhouse gas emission reduction funding, the federal government launched the 3-year $1.45-billion Climate Action Fund Incentive (CAFI) in July of 2019 – which is available in Ontario, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. Applications for the first round of CAFI funding are due October 17, 2019. And, there’ll be more rounds of funding announced in 2020.


What types of projects does CAFI cover?

The Climate Action Fund Incentive covers the following retrofits to manufacturing buildings:

  • Enhancements to building ‘envelopes’ that lead to energy reduction. This  includes installing energy-efficient windows, doors and skylights, increased insulation, weatherproofing and glazing.
  • Installing energy efficient lighting systems. Installing energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, systems and controls.
  • Water-heating retrofits, including high efficiency condensing water heating

Installing high-efficiency motors and controls.

  • Installing energy management controls, including building automation systems
  • Fuel switching to lower-emitting energy sources in existing buildings.
  • Retrofitting and upgrading of existing equipment including equipment and machinery upgrades and retrofits, replacing compressors with variable-speed compressors

How much funding is available through CAFI?

The Climate Action Fund Incentive covers up to 25% of the project’s total eligible costs. The minimum project cost is $80,000, which would result in a $20,000 incentive. While there’s no maximum project cost, the maximum amount of funding that will be given per project is $250,000. Companies can also apply and receive funding more than once. In order to receive funding, a company must wait for approval before starting the project. If a project is started before the grant application is approved, the company will automatically be disqualified from receiving funding. Lastly, as with all grant programs, once you’ve completed the project and submitted proof-of-payment to the government, only then will you receive your refund.

How do I apply for funding?

To apply for funding, please visit


Bonny Koabel CPA, CGA is President of AKR Consulting Canada a Mississauga, ON firm specializing in Government Grants, Subsidies, Tax Credits, Refunds and Rebates since 2003.