LETTER: Regarding Rossland's energy use
In September, Andrew Bennett wrote, “Rossland is a “fat” energy town using about 36% more electricity than the average BC home. It’s time for an eco-vention”. So should we Rosslanders hang our heads in shame?
Whilst I am 100% in agreement that we should all be trying to cut back on our energy use, the description of Rossland as a “fat” energy town is should be questioned. My question is “fat relative to what or who”?
Back in the spring I issued an 89-page “Background report on Rossland’s energy supply, demand and opportunities” that I wrote when I was a member of the Rossland energy task force. In the course of preparing this report I did some “benchmarking” or comparison of Rossland with other municipalities.
There is a section in the report that gives the results for six Kootenay municipalities including Creston, Kimberley, Trail, Nelson, Fernie and Rossland showing that Rosslanders total energy consumption per capita was the 2nd lowest.
I also did some comparisons with 20 other municipalities around the Province, although these are not in the report. Out of 21 municipalities Rossland’s total energy consumption per capita was the 5 th lowest. This includes both residential end transportation energy uses. Comparisons such as this should be taken “with a grain of salt” however because of the wide differences in climate, snowfall, commuting distances, public transport and many other factors that affect energy use.
When comparing residential energy use only, Rosslanders rank 16th out of 21 on a per capita basis. This number by itself is however, meaningless because of the wide differences in winter temperatures. More than half of British Columbians lives in the Greater Vancouver area where the climate is much milder than Rossland.
Nevertheless, there is a way of making meaningful comparisons. Environment Canada publishes information for many locations throughout Canada and BC that gives the number of “degree days”. when the temperature was below 18 degree centigrade. This is a measure used by engineers designed to reflect the demand for energy needed to heat a home or building. It is based on measurements of outside air temperature.
When the residential energy use is “normalized” for each municipality based on this climate data, the ranking changes and Rossland once again returns to 5th lowest out of the 21 municipalities studied. This is not too shabby!
So, Rossland is by no means a “fat” energy town in comparison with others in BC. This does not mean that we should “rest on our laurels”. Canadians use almost twice as much energy per capita as the average European, and almost twenty times the average person in India or Peru. So whether we are “slim”, “normal” “fat” or “obese” is all relative and I suppose the important thing is to make reductions, no matter where your starting point.