Gan­der to con­tinue en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ini­tia­tives

The Western Star - - CLOSE TO HOME -

GAN­DER, N.L. — Keep­ing the lights on in Gan­der isn’t cheap.

Bud­get 2019 for the cen­tral New­found­land town al­lo­cated more than $1.1 mil­lion for its elec­tri­cal needs, an in­crease of 1.8 per cent over the pre­vi­ous year’s al­lo­ca­tion.

In to­tal, it makes up 6.7 per cent of the town’s $17-mil­lion bud­get.

For well over two decades, Mayor Percy Far­well said the town has been en­gaged in find­ing ef­fi­cien­cies to re­duce the cost of heat and light for its build­ings.

Gan­der re­cently an­nounced through part­ner­ship with Honey­well Building So­lu­tions, it was able to re­al­ize $234,179 in en­ergy con­sump­tion sav­ings for 2018.

This, Far­well said, was done by assess­ing town in­fra­struc­ture for ef­fi­ciency op­por­tu­ni­ties, largely sur­round­ing heat and light so­lu­tions.

A few of the retro­fit ini­tia­tives men­tioned in­cluded town build­ings be­ing con­verted to pro­gram­mable ther­mostats, LED lighting, mo­tion-sen­sor lighting and build­ings be­ing sealed in heat loss ar­eas.

How­ever, the money isn’t back in the hands of the town just yet.

Far­well con­firmed the sav­ings are be­ing used to fi­nance the up­grades.

“The build­ings are as­sessed for ef­fi­cien­cies, retrofits are rec­om­mended and (the com­pany) fi­nances it,” he said. “You pay it back out of sav­ings achieved through the retro­fit.”

The re­pay­ment is car­ried out over a pe­riod of time, Far­well said, “so in a rel­a­tively short time frame, you achieve sav­ings that pay for the retro­fit and ... from that point on­ward we’ll be gen­er­at­ing an­nual sav­ings.”

Far­well said the town will con­tinue part­ner­ing with Honey­well to look at the possibilit­y of elec­tric-pow­ered town ve­hi­cles and al­ter­nate sources of en­ergy for build­ings.

He was skep­ti­cal as to whether it would mean a tax reduction for res­i­dents.

“It more likely means less up­ward pres­sure on taxes,” he said.

Fur­ther­more, Far­well said these ini­tia­tives help re­duce the town’s car­bon foot­print and pre­pare the town for pro­posed rate in­creases for elec­tric­ity when Muskrat Falls comes on stream.

“The more work you do up front to get that de­mand down, that will make the sav­ings even greater,” he said. “Be­cause un­for­tu­nately, one way or another, power is go­ing to end up cost­ing more.”

PROV­INCE-WIDE CON­CERN

Tony Keats, pres­i­dent of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties New­found­land and Labrador, rec­og­nizes the need for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to try to find sav­ings.

He said MNL has been work­ing with part­ners to de­velop en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ini­tia­tives be­cause it can be a costly bur­den for tax­pay­ers.

Street lighting in Dover, where Keats is mayor, costs the town ap­prox­i­mately $1,200 per month. Heat­ing and lighting of town-owned build­ings runs be­tween $1,500 and $2,000 per month, stated Keats.

The pop­u­la­tion of the Bon­av­ista Bay town is 662 ac­cord­ing to the 2016 cen­sus.

“For a small com­mu­nity it’s big money,” he said.

Dover has also jumped on board with pro­gram­mable ther­mostats, LED lighting, and has em­ploy­ees en­gage in best prac­tices for en­ergy con­sump­tion, such as mak­ing sure all doors are closed.

“Any­thing that can bring down costs for a mu­nic­i­pal­ity so res­i­dents don’t pay higher taxes is a great thing,” he said. “It’s im­por­tant for us to make sure com­mu­ni­ties are aware of pro­grams and dif­fer­ent things that can be done to bring those costs down.”

He, too, has con­cerns about in­creased power rates putting ad­di­tional pres­sure on mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

MNL, he said, will con­tinue to hold gov­ern­ment to keep­ing rate in­creases to a min­i­mum and will con­tinue to keep com­mu­ni­ties aware of any in­cen­tives and new tech­nolo­gies that can be taken ad­van­tage of.

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