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2021 Impact Report

Look at what we achieved together in 2021! This year we facilitated connections, empowered community champions and influenced decision-makers to continue to create the conditions necessary for communities to contribute to Canada’s net-zero target. The road to net-zero runs through Smart Energy Communities.

As a non-profit, we could not do this important work without the support of our network! If you are not already a part of the network click here to join.


from our network


on net-zero solutions

Working Group participants from 20+ sectors

Working Groups held virtually to collaborate, learn, and evaluate how to implement on-the-ground smart energy solutions

workshops bringing together key sectors from across Canada to accelerate Smart Energy Communities

supporters across provincial, national and international organizations


of Working Group participants formed new connections and strengthened partnerships

“I was able to put faces to names I had only seen in emails and get a better sense of where stakeholders were on certain issues.”

“The QUEST Working Groups provide an understanding that all municipalities are facing the same challenges and barriers. It helps to keep motivation high.”

“QUEST is one of my ‘go to’ networks to discuss ideas, obtain feedback on policies and projects and learn from experts and peers. It would be difficult to do the work we do as individual municipalities without a network like QUEST.”

“Through a QUEST Working Group, I was able to connect with someone working on a similar project and was able to have that person come speak to our working group.”




and support

projects, with 3 completed and 7 underway

local governments directly engaged in energy capacity building through QUEST projects and services

registrants to our 16 webinars


of Working Group participants increased their knowledge, capacity and confidence

“QUEST has really helped us in our efforts to move forward with our Action Plan. Thanks for the opportunity!”

“It’s inspiring and encouraging hearing what other local governments are doing in their efforts to combat climate change.”

“QUEST is often a sounding board for some of our initiatives related to community energy planning and climate action.”


“It is helpful to learn and hear from industry members about emerging technologies, ongoing challenges and shared objectives.”


“It helped me understand the activities, priorities, and challenges faced by municipalities.”

New online resources

Reports released in 2021


and inspire

Canadian governments, regulators, industry and associations represented by senior executives and decision-makers, gathered as part of QUEST’s Smart Energy Leaders Dialogue


QUEST mentions by media 

submissions to federal and provincial policymakers to influence policy development

national and regional external committees advancing Smart Energy Communities with    QUEST representation

Policy Influence in Action

Informing Innovation Sandboxes

As a part of the Innovation Sandbox Initiative, we have worked with regulators, policymakers, utilities, industry associations and academics from across Ontario to inform the renewal of Canada’s first Innovation Sandbox, launched in 2019.

Together, we identified barriers to low-carbon innovation in Ontario, what an ideal Innovation Sandbox would look like, and how the Ontario Energy Board’s Innovation Sandbox can be revised to meet Ontario’s needs.

Emissions Reduction Alberta's Energy Savings for Business Program

In 2021, QUEST’s Alberta Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Working Group continued to work with Emissions Reductions Alberta (ERA) to refine and improve the Energy Savings for Business Program, including expanding incentives for smaller capacity combined heat and power (CHP) projects to increase adoption of energy-efficient technologies for small and medium scale businesses. The Working Group has long been advocating for energy efficiency programs in Alberta and has been providing ERA with feedback on how they can improve program uptake among Alberta businesses.

Informing Building Capacity with the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program

QUEST informed the design of the capacity stream of the Smart Renewables and Electrification Pathways Program (SREPs).

SREPs supports accelerating eligible projects that can transform our electricity sector as we move toward the net-zero economy of 2050. Capacity building also helps communities and organizations to acquire knowledge and the tools needed to develop renewable energy and grid modernization projects. Both are key steps in Canada’s equitable transition to a cleaner electrical grid.

Streamlined Approvals for CHP Projects in Ontario

Ontario’s Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks finalized policy changes streamlining approvals for low-risk combined heat and power (CHP) projects in 2021. The Ontario CHP Working Group supported reducing the regulatory burden on low-risk CHP projects. The final changes include exemptions for lower risk reciprocating and turbine CHP projects under 500 kW, and a streamlined sector registry approval for CHP projects up to 25 MW. The proposal also includes streamlined approvals for biomass-based CHP projects, with exemptions for projects between 50 kW and 150 kW, and a streamlined EASR for biomass-based CHP under 3 MW.

Emissions Performance Standards (EPS) Regulations Finalized

QUEST’s Ontario CHP Consortium has been very active in advocating for aggressive but fair carbon policies, first on cap and trade and then on the Emissions Performance Standards (EPS) program. In 2021, the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks posted two decision notices to the Environmental and Regulatory registries (ERO 019-2813 and ERO 019-3719) that has the EPS program replacing the federal Output Based Pricing System. This is a positive development as the Ontario EPS gives a credit for heat recovery for non-industrial uses, sending price signals to incentivize behaviour that captures waste heat from electricity generation.

Alberta Moving to Allow Unlimited Self-Supply with the Electricity Statutes Amendment Act

QUEST’s Alberta Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Working Group has been advocating with Alberta Energy, the Alberta Electric System Operator and the Alberta Utilities Comission to address a change in practice that effectively limited self-supply of electricity by Alberta businesses. In the fall of 2021, Alberta Energy put forward Bill 86, responding to industry and consumers to allow unlimited self-supply of electricity, as well as introducing storage to stand alongside generation.


across sectors and jurisdictions

sectors represented by QUEST supporters

in the QUEST network connected to our projects, working groups, events and  communications

provinces represented by bilingual staff for nationwide engagement

Join Us

Join the Network

We hope that you will join us as we work to support Canadian communities on the pathway to net-zero!