The Ontario Power Authority’s saveONenergy Aboriginal Conservation Program is a hit in Moose Cree First Nation.
“It’s pretty good, actually — it’s benefitting our members through more energy efficient homes,” said Bertha K. Sutherland, associate executive director with Moose Cree First Nation.
“Right now we have up to about 106 approved applications and we received another three while (the certified energy auditors) were in town.”
Sutherland said the auditors have been busy checking out homes over the past three weeks in the James Bay coastal community.
“They’re seeing some places where they need new insulation in the roof,” Sutherland said. “That’s where the heat kind of escapes, so they’re recommending more insulation.”
Sutherland said the auditors’ recommendations will help community members lower their hydro costs.
“We hope to see it pay off with lower hydro bills,” Sutheralnd said. “Most northern First Nations have extremely high hydro bills, so this is part of trying to get people to be more energy efficient in their homes.”
Moose Cree was one of 12 First Nation communities across Ontario, including Keewaywin, Wunnumin Lake, Ojibways of Pic River and Michipicoten, that were selected to participate in the first year of the saveONenergy Aboriginal Conservation Program.
“The Aboriginal Conservation Program has provided our community members with knowledge and tools for efficient energy consumption in our homes,” Sutherland said. “It has also created awareness on how to save on energy costs as well as contribute to the protection of our environment.”
In addition to the installation of more attic insulation, the auditors also recommended a variety of other energy-saving measures such as ENERGY STAR CFL light bulbs, smart power bars, hot water tank wrap and pipe insulation, efficient shower heads and faucet aerators, block heater timers, programmable thermostats and wall or basement insulation. Assessments are also available for eligible businesses and facilities for their lighting and water-heating systems, including up to $1,500 in energy-efficient lighting and equipment upgrades and access to further incentives.
“The first year of the program has gone very well, with 12 communities benefitting from energy audits and energy-saving measures,” said Colin Andersen, CEO of the OPA. “We hope First Nation communities across the province will take the opportunity to apply for the second year of the program, as we continue to work closely with First Nations and Métis communities on conservation and energy efficiency.”
Sixteen communities will be selected for the second year of program, which has an application deadline of Feb. 26. In addition to providing customized electricity conservation services, the program also creates employment opportunities, with a potential of up to 30 jobs in selected First Nation communities. Program managers, community coordinators, canvassers and energy auditors will be hired to deliver the program to participating communities.
“The Aboriginal Conservation Program offers First Nation and Métis communities a way to reduce their electricity costs and create local jobs,” said Bob Chiarelli, minister of Energy. “Participating communities will see benefits while also contributing to the province’s overall conservation goals.”
More than 30 communities applied for the first year of the program.
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