Rossland on an Energy Diet

Brief History

The Energy Task Force (ETF) has been working for over 3 years with the goal of reducing Rossland’s carbon imprint and overall energy use.  Over that time an energy plan has been drafted which identifies priority initiatives for the community.  A key driver to implementing these initiatives and their success is ‘How do we change consumer behavior?’

To assist our understanding we undertook focus groups with a random sample of homeowners in the spring of 2011. The ETF had been working with Fortis throughout this process and they kindly paid for the focus groups which were conducted. Several interesting findings came from these focus groups:

  • High concern of all participants to do the “right thing”, but there seemed to be some confusion as to what is the ‘right thing’ and people getting mixed messages e.g. compact fluorescent light bulbs – good to reduce energy, but bad due to mercury? Which out-weighs the other?
  • General understanding that programs were available to make homes and businesses more energy efficient but confusion on the details and how they can be accessed.

It was concluded that to overcome the market confusion and to produce real action in making Rossland buildings more energy efficient we should offer Rossland as a Pilot Program and find a way to make all building owners as the Godfather said “an offer they can’t refuse”.

The Sustainability Commission then applied for and received funding through Columbia Basin Trust’s Environmental Initiative Program to contribute to the wage of a community ambassador for the project and assist with administrative tasks throughout.

 

Who’s involved?

  • Energy Task Force through the Visions to Action Sustainability Commission
  • Support at local level through Steering Committee and administrative support.
  • Fortis: Employs program coordinator, Community Ambassador, other support (legal, media, technical); existing programs/grants (e.g., FLIP – direct installation lighting program).
  • City of Rossland: Support through Steering Committee, office space for Community Ambassador, input from staff.
  • Federal and Provincial Government: financial support through LiveSmart BC and ecoEnergy.
  • Nelson and District Credit Union: offering financing to homeowners for retrofits & final audit.
  • Columbia Basin Trust Environmental Initiatives Program provides funding for the Community Ambassador 

The plan in four parts (for more details visit FortisBC.com/energydiet):

  1. Sign up: Starting Oct 11th homeowners can start signing up at the Miner’s hall (5pm and 7pm presentations) and sign-ups will continue until Oct 28th .
  2. The audit: Audits begin October 17th and are free from Fortis/LiveSmart BC ($300 value), targeted at 250 homes – information regarding appointments will be given at sign-up.
  3. The work: Homeowner gets a sheet of priorities from the auditor and is then free to make changes to their home or not. Target of 220 follow up. Small businesses will be approached to take part in the FLIP program - Target of 35 small businesses.
  4. Post retrofit audit: Once the work is done a post audit is done which must be paid for by the homeowner

The financing:

a.      Small business runs through FLIP – up to $5500 in direct lighting installation. 

b.      Others eligible for partial rebates through LiveSmart BC and ecoEnergy (Feds), up to $19,000

c.       Nelson and District Credit Union can provide two types of financing – bridging and cost-based (see NDCU for more info).

The support:

A Community Ambassador from FortisBC will be in Rossland to assist homeowners at every step of the way - from sign up, to audits, to rebates! The Community Ambassador will set up audit appointments, assist with forms for rebates and provide info sessions to community members throughout the process.

 

Does This Plan meet all the Needs of Residents? 

  • It will answer the questions: what is the right thing? It will give people the specific information they need to do the right thing in their home.
  • It brings necessary financing and support programs to enable engagement by all consumers. It easy for all – one seamless delivery program.

 

What’s new about this?

Audits and retrofits are nothing new, and the paybacks are well known. – The Rossland Energy Diet is doing it all in one fell swoop – more efficient in terms of audit costs, outreach costs, possibly equipment costs for contractors.

 

What are the benefits to Rossland?

  • Overall cost saving to homeowners and businesses.
  • Lower the cost of living for all in Rossland through energy savings.
  • Improvements will be made to the home which will likely lead to increased resale value.
  • Environmental benefits since energy use will go down and with it, GHG emissions.
  • Comfort of residents in more energy efficient homes – cooler in summer, warmer in winter.
  • Provide some economic stimulus for the town.  Many contractors will be busy.
  • Designed as a pilot program that could be replicated elsewhere, this project will put Rossland on the map as a pioneer in community energy savings.