Today’s Poll

Clean energy pilot project aims to clear air through low carbon options for retrofits

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 23rd, 2020

A new low carbon technology project for the Kootenays is proposed to begin this year.

The overall purpose of the Kootenay Clean Energy Transition pilot project is to “expedite the adoption of greenhouse gas emission reduction actions by Kootenay residents, organizations, governments and First Nations, while supporting broad market transformation,” said RDCK sustainability coordinator, Paris Marshall Smith, in her report to the RDCK board of directors on supporting the pilot project.

“Identified as a potential key player in driving the adoption of low carbon options for retrofits, contractors and trades have a direct connection with the consumer, and are therefore well suited to be the avenue for provision of energy efficiency and low carbon retrofit solutions,” she wrote.

Marshall Smith said the pilot project would aim to deliver training for contractors, job seekers and students.

In addition, it is expected to deliver new solar installer courses, installation specifications to existing installers, explore labour market training opportunities and develop clean energy training modules for secondary and post secondary students.

Many levels of government across North America have explored barriers and opportunities for emission reductions in the building and transportation sectors in order to obtain reduction targets necessary to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change in the future, said Marshall Smith.

Towards that end, the board of directors approved a contribution at its Feb. 20 regular board meeting of $15,000 for two years from the Climate Action Revenue Incentive fund to participate in the Kootenay Clean Energy Transition pilot project.

The Kootenay Clean Energy Transition pilot project — operated through Kootenay Employment Services (KES) and the Community Energy Association (CEA) — will begin in September and is expected to conclude in December 2021.

The full project scope is anticipated to be a two-year, $1.2-million project that will provide two opportunities to engage in a “time limited bulk purchase” of one or more low carbon technologies.

“Staff see the Kootenay Clean Energy Transition pilot project (KCET) as complimenting the efforts of the RDCK to advance high performance energy efficient construction through the Regional Energy Efficiency Program (REEP),” said Marshall Smith.

The project has several key objectives:

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the 44 communities of the Kootenay region of B.C. by targeting the two highest emitting sectors: built environment (heating and cooling of buildings) and transportation (60 per cent of community-wide emissions in the Kootenays);
  • address key barriers to low carbon technology adoption: knowledge, cost and local access;
  • provide training and capacity building in the workforce to support a transition toward the low carbon and clean energy sectors;
  • increase local climate and emissions literacy;
  • aggregate the procurement of key low carbon technologies; and
  • evaluate the success of the pilot to inform expansion and scaled up delivery.

— Source: RDCK

One of the project partners — the Community Energy Association (CEA) — will conduct interviews, community engagement and focus groups to better understand the opportunities and barriers to trades and contractors in delivering the program, as well as the specific needs and barriers to homeowners.

In addition to developing a strong brand, the project is expected to formulate a consistent message, actions and consolidated resources on a central website.

The project is designed to work in conjunction with neighbouring regional districts, with the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) already committed to contributing to the pilot and the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) in process of deciding.

Making a case for emission reduction

The Paris Climate Agreement, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and numerous global organizations have stressed the absolute need for significant emission reductions “and a transition to a low carbon economy,” noted Marshall Smith.

As well, the province’s CleanBC Plan commits to a 40 per cent reduction of annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050 (based on 2007 GHG emissions).

However, in the last 14 years the province has only reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.1 per cent “indicating that new, innovative approaches to driving GHG emission reduction is necessary,” she wrote.

—    Source: RDCK

Low carbon technologies that could be sought:

The pilot project could develop bulk purchase packages — created through requests for proposals or partnerships — installed by pre-qualified contractors.

Pre-qualified contractors will have engaged in trade-specific training and education.

The products proposed for coordination of bulk purchases or product specific discounts will include:

  • energy efficiency audits;
  • electric vehicles;
  • level two chargers;
  • air source heat pumps;  
  • solar PV arrays; and
  • electric bicycles.

Further, the pilot will identify opportunities to develop new and leverage existing rebate programs. New financing options will be explore with local financiers.

— Source: Kootenay Clean Energy Transition pilot project

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