Residents celebrated success in the Rossland Energy Diet Thursday, as the officials gathered in front of a crowd at the mountain market.
There was ice cream for everyone and a plaque for the city, which celebrates the completion and success of the first Energy Diet.
Steven Ashe, chair of the sustainability commission, said responsibility for the diet’s success has to go not only to those that sponsored it, but to those who participated.
“The real thanks has to go to those who participated in Rossland and retrofitted their home, kept out the cold and lowered their total energy use,” Ashe said. “They’re going to save money, they’re going to improve the value of their home and they’re going to reduce their impact on the environment. Not only that, but the investments that were made over this last while, were made in Rossland.”
He also wanted to celebrate those who made the energy diet possible: FortisBC, the City of Rossland, Columbia Basin Trust, the Nelson and District Credit Union and the Sustainability Commission.
“Saving energy makes sense,” he added.
Katrine Conroy wanted to congratulate FortisBC on their foresight to put the diet together, adding that Rossland deserves a lot of credit as well with its energy savings.
“I think this was a great initiative that you undertook and that you did such substantial success,” Conroy said. “I think that it’s something other communities in the area should also take up and hopefully it’s something that we can carry on.”
Mayor Greg Granstrom said the energy diet was a huge success.
Granstrom said that the numbers speak for themselves: “More than a million kilowatts in electricity half way through and have more than $1.5 million invested in the community is a real win/win.”
He added: “Citizens of Rossland responded in great numbers to the energy diet, our participation numbers proved our community is committed to energy conservation.”
The preliminary results show that residents have reduced their annual energy use by more than 2,220 gigajoules of natural gas and 1,478,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, by making energy efficient renovations to existing homes and small businesses.
Carol Suhan, manager of FortisBC PowerSense Services, said that Ashe had initially called her with the idea three years ago.
“He said, ‘Carol, we need some help here in Rossland and we want you to help us. We know that Rossland uses more energy than the average houses in British Columbia because of the older housing stock and the mountainous climate, so we want to change all that,’” Suhan explained, adding that at the time FortisBC was busy with other projects.
Ashe came back with support from the Columbia Basin Trust early last year. At the time the federal government released the ecoENERGY rebate program, she said.
“I thought, okay, we have to do something, this is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said. “Residents could now get up to $12,000 in rebates for upgrading their homes, insulation, windows and doors, we have to do it.”
They had a really short timeframe for the upgrades and so six months ago they launched the program
Participants received a free initial energy assessment, help connecting with local qualified contractors to do the retrofit work and guidance in capitalizing on the LiveSmart BC Efficiency Incentive Program and the former Federal ecoENERGY incentive programs.
The results for the diet are not complete yet, because people have until the end of the year to make the renovations and qualify for the rebates.
As of now, Suhan said 125 people have made significant improvements to their homes.
“Right now we have 11 per cent of the people, who accessed the rebates,” she said. “The normal success rate for this sort of program is one to two per cent for LiveSmart. We have 11 per cent, and we think by the end of the year it will be 15.”
The original program target was to reach 100 homes, and more than double signed up for an energy assessment (257 in total).
The energy efficient measures that participants completed will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 338 tonnes annually and have injected an estimated $1.5 million into the local economy. These preliminary results are for 135 of the 257 participating homes, so even more losses are expected. Remaining participants have until March 31, 2013 to renovate and apply for grants through LiveSmart B.C.