Regional News: RDEK, CBT and BC Hydro join force to bring back community energy manager

The East Kootenay area will once again have a community energy manager

The East Kootenay area will once again have a community energy manager, as the position — which is jointly funded by the Regional District East Kootenay (RDEK), B.C. Hydro, and the Columbia Basin Trust — has been renewed for an extended timeframe, with past community energy manger Megan Lohmann returning to the role for a two-year term.

The various organizations involved have partnered to fund the position with the aim of helping the East Kootenay save energy and reduce emissions through projects such as creating incentives for more energy efficient buildings; mapping out electric vehicle charging infrastructure; creating a region-wide compost and organic waste program; and planning long-term support for upgrading existing homes.

“I’m excited to pick it up again and excited to have the funding extended for a further two years, as it allows us to design programs that we can facilitate for a longer time period, and it also allows us to provide larger, regional scale initiatives that typically take longer to implement,” said Lohmann.

Some of the home energy efficiency initiatives in the past had, as a result of the one-year timeframe, been on a tight timeline that really only allowed for people already considering home retrofits to realistically take advantage of the program, she said, adding that the new two-year timeframe should allow many more people to participate.

“This community energy manger position provides capacity to our East Kootenay communities which would not exist otherwise. We are pleased to support a community energy manager, and look forward to the savings and opportunities that will benefit East Kootenay residents,” said RDEK chair Rob Gay in a press release on the extension.

The regional Community Energy Manager position is unique, with the RDEK being the only regional district in the province to have one, according to B.C. Hydro community relations manager Diane Tammen.

Tammen said the rural nature and smaller populations of East Kootenay communities will benefit from a collaborative approach to the challenges of addressing energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction.  “We believe the communities will benefit by having access to expertise that will contribute to energy conservation and greenhouse gas emission reductions,” she said in the press release.

Kootenay East MLA and provincial Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett also welcomed the renewal of the position and the collaboration it took to create it, saying  “All residents will have opportunity to benefit — in homes and businesses and on the road — and in this case, making a difference and conserving energy also means saving money.”

The manager position will fall under the umbrella of the Community Energy Association (CEA), a non-profit society that supports communities in saving energy, emissions, and money.