HRAI set to address heat pump market concerns in New Brunswick
By HPAC MagazineHeat Pumps HPAC General
The heat pump (HP) market in Eastern Canada has seen significant growth recently, particularly the sale of ductless mini-split systems. As a proportion of all Canadian sales of this product, the region’s share has grown from less than one per cent to over 18 per cent over the past five years. While the growth has been generally good for the local HVAC/R industry, it has also raised some new challenges. One of these is the complete lack of enforcement of existing trades training regulations which require that installers be certified as refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics.
The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) committed earlier in 2014 to working with the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency and Nova Scotia Power to address this same concern in that province. More recently, HRAI reached out to representatives from New Brunswick Apprenticeship and Occupational Certification to discuss the almost complete absence of trade certification enforcement in New Brunswick. The problem is virtually identical to Nova Scotia: growth of the ductless HP market has attracted many unlicensed people into the HP installation business and the absence of trade certification enforcement hurts legitimate contractors and suppliers. At a meeting in early December with HRAI, the New Brunswick government’s representatives were sympathetic to industry concerns but, having almost no budget for enforcement, they felt powerless to effect any change.
In Nova Scotia, one of the solutions identified was to work with the provincial utility to promote directly to consumers the benefits of dealing with qualified tradespeople. Nova Scotia Power has committed to supporting this message in its own marketing.
In New Brunswick, however, a new and different challenge has emerged. Late in October, New Brunswick Power issued a “Request for Expressions of Interest” for the provision of a ductless heat pump rental program. The request was sent to HVAC/R equipment suppliers in the province. Members immediately expressed concern about the utility stepping over the line that separates the regulated monopoly energy market from the competitive HVAC/R market.
On December 3, 2014, Martin Luymes, HRAI director of programs and relations, met with representatives from NB Power who provided assurance that “no decisions have been made” as to whether such a program would proceed. A meeting was then held with members in Moncton to get their perspective on the possibility of the utility setting up a rental program. Members at the meeting were united in their call for action from HRAI in resisting NB Power on this program. Following on this direction, HRAI prepared a letter to NB Power president Gaetan Thomas, requesting a face-to-face meeting to discuss these concerns in more detail.
The goal will be to ensure NB Power is an ally in the promotion of properly installed systems, rather than an active market participant.
(From HRAI‘s January 2015 E-Insight)