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Since the Spring of 2016, HRAI Members in New Brunswick have been concerned about a heat pump rental program offered and administered by Saint John Energy (SJE), a municipally owned utility.  Expansion of this program to other parts of the Provinces has raised more questions among HRAI Members in the region.

HRAI’s position has been that regulated monopoly utilities should be limited to the safe and reliable delivery of energy.  The selection and installation of products and services should be handled by the consumer – contractor relationship.

In the case of SJE, HRAI believes they have pushed the boundaries of this relationship by offering the heat pump rental program which may intrude on the competitive HVAC marketplace.  When utilities make equipment supply decisions for their customers it can leave other marketplace participants at a significant competitive disadvantage. 

To address these concerns, HRAI recently held a conference call with Saint John Energy (SJE).  Representing HRAI were: Martin Luymes, Director, Programs and Relations, John O’Keefe, HRAI Contractor Board Member, Scott Papp, Manager of Divisional Programs for Contractors, Steve Wilson, HRAI Wholesaler Board Member.  On the call for Saint John Energy were Ray Robinson, President and CEO, Marta Kelly, Vice President, Finance & Administration and Jennifer Coughlan, Consumer Products and Business Development

HRAI explained their concerns with the program which mainly relate to how it has been set up and the aforementioned intrusion into the HVAC marketplace.

Since the meeting, modernized legislation in the province of New Brunswick was set to come into effect on January 1, 2018 replacing the Municipalities Act and adding a new Community Planning Act.  One of the key outcomes of this new legislation is that municipalities are not allowed to operate for-profit corporations.  As such, the City of Saint John, which owns Saint John Energy, a for-profit entity, will have to make adjustments to comply with the legislations.   HRAI will continue to monitor how this situation plays out.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 235 or email mluymes@hrai.ca.