Community energy planning
Pilot project to help community work towards self-sustenance

by Ralph Plath
Northern News Services

FORT SIMPSON (Feb 27/97) - Fort Simpson has been invited to pilot a project which will harness the community's energy.

It was chosen, along with Cape Dorset, by a committee comprised of the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, Aurora Research Institute, Nunavut Research Institute and the NWT Association of Municipalities to develop a community energy planning process.

The hope is that the communities can pass along what they've learned through energy conservation and efficiency to other Northern communities.

"We need to look at a planning process to get communities to deal with energy issues," committee member and NWT Association of Municipalities president Dennis Bevington told council members at a village committee meeting Monday. "The goal is to develop a process other communities can use."

Bevington said every Northern community has energy costs that are, "astronomical."

One example is Cape Dorset, a community of about 1,200 which spends about $1.5 million each year on energy, he said.

With the help of the committee, the village of Fort Simpson will be looking at using energy-efficient technologies, alternative energy sources and conservation measures. The process will involve forming a local group, developing a community profile, making and implementing a plan and monitoring and evaluating it.

"You'll be getting off the ground first with this pilot project," Bevington told councillors. "There are no examples of this in the North."

In the future, communities who adopt an energy-friendly program can benefit from more local decision-making, training opportunities, and a chance to use the savings for other municipal programs, though at least one village councillor pointed out that the NWT Power Corporation controls the rates.

"The Power Corporation has never had any incentives to save power," said Mayor Norm Prevost. "They should be playing a big role in providing incentives."

Councillors and committee members discussed ways to reduce costs -- energy-efficient light bulbs, wind power, hydrogen power, steam-generated electricity and heat. But most agreed residents have a vital role to play when it comes to dealing with energy issues.

Attempts by the government and other organizations to get people to conserve energy has been unsuccessful, Bevington said.

"We need to get awareness through to the community and try to stress the importance of saving that penny or dollar," said councillor Lindsay Waugh.