BC Hydro funded a energy planning workshop in Houston last Thursday and Friday, with the goal of reducing Houston’s energy consumption.
The Community Energy and Efficiency Plan (CEEP) QuickStart program is to help small local governments develop a plan to manage the energy consumption and emissions in a community, said Peter Robinson, Community Energy Planner, who led the workshop last week.
Developing and following an energy plan and good development planning can lower taxes in a community by making things more efficient, Robinson said.
Part of the Community Energy Association contracted by BC Hydro, Robinson says their focus is forming links with communities and focusing on basic initiatives to lower energy use.
He said that currently the Houston community spends about $20 million on energy per year, with $14.5 million on gas and diesel, $2.5 million for hydro-electricity and $2 million in natural gas.
The Province of B.C requires communities to have greenhouse gas (GHG) targets, and this Community Energy Plan will help Houston meet that legislation, said John Guenther, Houston Interim Community Planner.
Guenther said the energy plan will update and flow into Houston’s Official Community Plan (OCP).
The main aspects of Houston’s energy plan involve promoting energy incentive programs, improving walking and cycling infrastructure, considering energy efficiency in bylaws, zoning, and transportation planning.
The workshop also touched on programs to help cover costs for a community to become more energy efficient.
BC Hydro Account Manager Eric Brown said changes are coming to the BC Hydro programs, but there are a lot of incentives for residents and businesses to improve energy efficiency.
BC Hydro has cash rebate programs for residents and businesses to get energy efficient technologies and appliances, and they have a Team Power Smart program, where people can get energy savings tips and get $75 cash if the reduce consumption by 10 percent.
BC Hydro and Fortis BC also offer a free home Energy Savings Kit and free energy audits for low-income housing, Brown said.
Participant Gary Rysavy, Small Business Energy Advisor, said LiveSmart BC also offers a program for small businesses to get free energy audits.
For more information see livesmartbc.ca or bchydro.com/rebates_savings.