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Premier talks energy savings

Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett, Premier Christy Clark, and BC Hydro’s Gary Hamer and Joanna Sofield (left to right) demonstrate the products available in the new Energy Saving Kit, which will be provided free of charge to low-income households in B.C. Gary Hamer is Manager of Residential Sector Technology and Innovation for BC Hydro, and Joanna Sofield is General Manager of Customer Care. - Sally MacDonald photo
Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett, Premier Christy Clark, and BC Hydro’s Gary Hamer and Joanna Sofield (left to right) demonstrate the products available in the new Energy Saving Kit, which will be provided free of charge to low-income households in B.C. Gary Hamer is Manager of Residential Sector Technology and Innovation for BC Hydro, and Joanna Sofield is General Manager of Customer Care.
— image credit: Sally MacDonald photo

BC Hydro and Fortis BC are offering a suite of energy efficiency programs to help B.C. residents counter the energy rate increases announced last year.

Premier Christy Clark announced the government's expansion of energy efficiency programs with broadened eligibility requirements during her visit to Cranbrook on Thursday, July 10.

Joining Premier Clark for the announcement at Cranbrook's BC Hydro headquarters was Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines.

BC Hydro, a Crown corporation, and Fortis BC, a private energy provider, are together spending $5.4 million on programs to reduce energy costs, targeted at low-income households.

"Reducing, reusing, recycling – we talk about it, but they are really hard to do, and it's certainly hard to reduce the amount of energy that you use," said Premier Clark. "You can take a couple days off from having a shower, you can decide you want to cut down on the number of loads of laundry that you want to do, you can turn off your lights. But for lots of people, they do those things and it's really hard to find a way to get further savings in the amount that you reduce."

It will be easier for British Columbians to apply for the programs, and about double the number of B.C. residents will be eligible for the programs that will lead to energy savings, the Premier said.

"These upgrades are going to help homeowners reduce their costs by up to 30 per cent.

"It's about making sure that we find a way to meet the needs of British Columbians by using less of this incredibly valuable resource and making sure that we are conserving our environment in the process."

Minister Bennett said the announcement follows on from the news last November that BC Hydro rates will increase by 28 per cent over the next five years.

"At that time we indicated that we were going to spend the next few months trying to get together programs that would assist low-income British Columbians to deal with the increase in electricity rates. That's what this announcement is about here today."

There are three programs that British Columbians will be able to take advantage of, and the province has increased the income cut-off so more people are eligible – about 20 per cent of Hydro customers, and about 30 per cent of Fortis customers.

Under the Energy Conservation and Assistance Program, low-income households can get free energy assessments and installation of energy saving products, ranging from $300 to $5,000.

The Home Energy Rebate Offer (HERO) offers homeowners new rebates, which have a total value of $6,000 per household, including a $750 bonus offer for installing three or more upgrades, such as Energy Star windows, high efficiency heating systems, insulation and draft proofing.

Finally, British Columbians can order an Energy Saving Kit on BC Hydro's website that will be mailed to them free of charge. It contains products such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, weather stripping, fridge thermometers and a high efficiency showerhead that could save homes $100 a year on their energy bill.

You can find out more about the programs by visiting www.bchydro.com/homerebates.

The East Kootenay Energy Diet is also a good way to access the rebates and find out which ones apply to your household. For more information, contact info@eked.ca or phone 250-531-0690.

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