Rossland Energy Diet goes viral across Kootenays
The enormously successful Rossland Energy Diet pilot project has spawned the Kootenay Energy Diet as Fortis BC now pounds regional pavement to drum up municipal support and homeowner interest in a slough of rebates and other incentives to improve the energy efficiency of residential and business buildings.
Pictured above, Rossland’s Michelle Laurie participated in the 2012 Rossland Energy Diet, and now her beaming son Ira is, quite literally, the poster child for the Kootenay Energy Diet.
Patricia Dehnel, the project manager for PowerSense Fortis BC, was joined by Steve Ash of the Rossland Sustainability Commission’s Energy Task Force, to appeal to Rossland’s council on Monday evening for continued city support of the project. Council has also been challenged to match program incentives that Castlegar and Grand Forks have offered their residents.
Dehnel reviewed the success of the 2012 program in Rossland in which 22 per cent of the town’s households participated, of whom 80 per cent completed improvements, injecting $1.6 million into the local economy, much of it in the form of rebates and other financial incentives from the federal and provincial governments, as well as from FortisBC.
Participants have seen reductions in their energy bills from 20 to 50 per cent, and the savings are reflected in newly certified Energuide ratings for their homes, not to mention greater comfort at home, Dehnel said.
She said the program was forged through partnerships that helped homeowners “overcome barriers” and develop “personalized programs” to have their homes assessed for potential energy upgrades, and then find ways to finance those upgrades through grants, low-interest loans, and energy savings.
Originally concocted by Rossland’s Energy Task Force, the program was strongly championed by FortisBC from the outset. Rossland was an ideal place for a pilot project, with homes here using an average of 40 per cent more electricity than a typical BC home. The Energy Diet soon found additional partners in the municipality, the Nelson and District Credit Union, and the Columbia Basin Trust.
The success garnered regional and even international interest, Dehnel said, so now FortisBC is replicating the program in many communities, now with additional support from the regional districts of Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary.
The official launch of the Kootenay Energy Diet took place on May 22 in Castlegar, and community launches in Salmo and Castlegar followed. Between now and September, FortisBC has launches planned for Midway, Trail, Grand Forks, Slocan, Creston, and Kaslo.
Rosslanders too will have a chance to participate in this round, and the launch here will take place at the Miners’ Hall on June 12 from 7 to 9 p.m.
The community launches will include a trade show of “enerventions,” slick tools to help shave watts.
Kootenay Energy Diet participants will have access to heavily subsidized energy assessments, only $60 for an initial home assessment and a post-assessment by Mar 31, 2014, at the much-reduced cost of $150. These assessments are used to determine not only Energuide ratings, but also to help homeowners identify the most cost-effective renovations, and the renovations that will earn LiveSmart BC provincial incentives, and FortisBC rebates.
In addition, program participants will qualify for low interest, long amortization loans to fund the renovations. Participating financial institutions now include not only the NDCU, but also Kootenay Savings Credit Union, Heritage Credit Union, Grand Forks Credit Union, and the Creston & District Credit Union.
Participants will also receive free lighting, low-flow showerheads, and pipe insulation.
For more information, visit the FortisBC site.