Community Energy Plan Stakeholder Engagement Meeting

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Christian Tham, Middlesex Centre’s Embedded Energy Manager, hosted a get together on October 25, 2016 to show off what the municipality has been doing to reduce its energy usage, the results of its efforts, a brief review of the results of a survey Christian put out to the community, and then a discussion on what residents of Middlesex Centre can be in their businesses and homes to help reduce energy usage.

Background

The Community Energy Plan will not be a bylaw, it will not be something to be enforced. It’s going to be a set of guidelines, a plan, for residents, businesses, and other organizations in the municipality to follow in order to help reduce their energy usage. A discussion primer was sent out to survey participants.

Amongst those in attendance were an executive on the Ilderton Fair Board, along with his wife (I didn’t catch their names), the Financial Controller of Coldstream Concrete, a Councillor for Newbury, Middlesex Centre staff like Al Marsman, Brian Lima, Christian Tham, Michelle Smibert, and finally folks from Middlesex Centre council like Mayor Edmondson, Councillor DeViet (now Deputy Mayor as of November 3), and Councillor Berze.

The Meeting

As mentioned, Christian sent out a survey ahead of time to find out what citizens were already doing to reduce their energy usage, other actions they feel could be taken to further reduce energy use, and so on. He said there was a “tremendous response,” much higher than other online feedback initiatives the municipality has conducted. One major highlight is that 91% of the people surveyed were very concerned, or extremely concerned, about energy costs.

I’ve got a few highlights from Christian’s presentation, which I’ve linked to here:

  • Commercial or Industrial sector can get up to 40% of cost to build on-site energy generation with natural gas covered
  • Middlesex Centre’s conversion to LED is saving $97,000 per year; the municipality received $85,000 in incentives from Hydro One to help pay for the conversion
  • It will only take 4.5 years to achieve pay back on the investment
  • Municipal office has been converted to LED too, seeing $8,795.12 per year savings, with pay back in just over a year
  • Middlesex Centre’s newest fire hall will be a Net Zero Energy/Carbon building
  • FCM Green Fund is paying for all of green/renewable/sustainable measures put in place; the fire wall will use 55,800 kWh and generate 70,600 kWh using solar
  • No energy storage on-site, it will use power from the grid when needed
  • Regulation 391/11 mandates municipalities lowering their GHG emissions and reporting on steps taken

Questions & Answers/Idea Discussion

A Q&A portion followed, which led to the discussion Christian wanted to have around what other steps we all can be taking to reduce energy usage (which Christian was going to use to help inform the Community Energy Plan). Unfortunately the Q&A turned into a session for people to complain about high hydro rates, water and wastewater lifecycle charges, the municipality taking advantage of the FIT program and placing solar panels on the roof of the Wellness Centre, and so on.

While I am someone who encourages having these types of discussions, they were well outside the purview of this meeting. And, unfortunately, some of the issues were outside the purview of a municipal council that doesn’t have any control over electricity rates. A few of the notes I made during this time:

  • A resident in a very rural area wants to know where all the money comes from; answer: taxpayers, of course
  • Environmental Registry has document laying out technology, methodology, and review for people who want to engage in co-generation, microFIT, etc.
  • Hydro One is supposed to refer you to energy generation methods available if you want to engage in co-generation, microFIT, etc.

Overall, I’m confident Christian didn’t quite get what he was looking for at the meeting, which is unfortunate. I am, however, hopeful that he got enough information and feedback through the survey to assemble an effective Community Energy Plan.