David Dodge, EFCL District B

David Dodge EFCL Past President and past district rep for Lago Lindo, Kilkenny, McLeod, Evansdale, Northmount, Londonderry, Steele Heights, Balwin, Killarney, Delwood, Glengarry, Rosslyn, Belvedere community leagues in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Photo by Rob Agostinis

Thursday, October 21, 2010

City of Edmonton Renewable Energy Task Force - What's that?

Hi Community Leagues

First, congratulations to Dave Loken, Ed Gibbons, Tony Caterina and Kim Krushell on their successful election campaigns! These are our four councillors from the region. Welcome "back" to three of you and a special welcome to Dave Loken, the new councillor on the block.

Don't forget the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues RGM is Monday October 25! Get the meeting package here. Come on down and join in the conversation about hockey memberships, get updates on current topics and have your say!
Duggan Community League, Address:  3728 – 106 Street
Dinner for RSVP’ed guests at 5:30, Registration until 6:30
Meeting begins at 6:30 Monday, Oct. 25, 2010.

Renewable Energy Task Force
A very interesting thing happened to me in my community league work over the last few months. Not long after members of Area Council 17 were peppering Edmonton City Councillor Ed Gibbons with questions about why the City does not have more solar panels installed, one of my colleagues, Renewable Energy expert Tim Weis invited me to a special meeting of the City of Edmonton Renewable Energy Task force.

The special meeting was to hear California renewable energy guru Paul Gipe make a presentation about using feed-in-tariffs to encourage growth in clean energy sources. I did a short video interview with him after his presentation. Gipe was promoting feed-in-tariffs as the key policy that has successfully secured half of the new renewable energy projects in the world.

The City of Edmonton ran a very small solar-electric pilot program to test interest in solar energy and their small $200,000 program was oversubscribed within days! The program resulted in 29 new solar systems being installed in Edmonton increasing our solar energy supply by 100%. This last statistic is pretty sad really, since it confirms we have only taken very tiny, baby steps towards developing clean sources of energy. But it does give a strong indication of interest by the public in getting in volved with renewable energy. Enmax is working on a program to put 8,000 small solar systems on the roofs of their customers. Watch for this next year.

There is no question the public is interested in renewable energy. I know this because of surveys that confirm that the public sees renewable energy and energy efficiency as the two key things we need to do to create a new green energy economy, to tackle climate change and to transform our relatively dirty energy supply into a clean energy supply over time.

The moral of the story is after attending the meeting I was invited to the next meeting of the City of Edmonton Renewable Energy Task force and I am now representing the EFCL and community leagues on the City of Edmonton's Renewable Energy Task force.
I attended the fourth meeting of the task force today and the topic was transportation.

This seemed like a good way to combine my interest in energy issues and my volunteer work in communities. The committee is a very interesting mix of folks and includes a lot of expertise.

I will be looking for ways to share information with community folks and eventually we will propose a meeting for community folks on these topics.

Today the topic was transportation and I learned all sorts of interesting things. I learned that Edmonton is one of the most car-oriented cities in Canada. I still think Calgary must be worse, but so it goes.

The City of Edmonton is currently working on significant expansion of the LRT to reduce emissions and roadway congestion. Apparently LRT ridership is now 94,000 per day, up 26% since adding just two stations to the line!

Environmentally this is interesting for other reasons. LRT runs on electricity and quite efficiently. Just this week I also noticed a sign at the new local school. The sign indicated an electric car charging station at the new school in my neighbourhood.

There is a sign and a plug-in for electric vehicles. I was thinking that electric vehicles are one of those technologies that is still not mature enough. But it seems electric vehicles are coming on stream in a variety of forms: electric vehicles (EV) and as plug-in-hybrids. Apparently even in Alberta where 60-70% of our electricity still comes from dirty sources like coal, the EV car produces 30% fewer emissions than a conventional gas car, according to experts on the task force.

The topic of the task force is of course renewable energy. The connection to cars and LRT is obvious. Electric is more efficient, and if you supply the power for the cars from renewable sources of energy then you have one very clean system.

One other fascinating fact came from a presentation by Godo Stoyke of Carbon Busters. He told us Amsterdam decided to invest heavily in cycling to encourage people to use bikes instead of cars. The program was so successful more than three times as many people use bicycles now in Amsterdam. And here's the crux: apparently there has been no increase in bike accidents with three times as many riders. Apparently the more bicycle riders you have the safer it is!

The last little factoid comes from Belgium. When the City of Hasslet was desperate for new transportation solutions and broke financially, they decided to try something radical. Instead of building multi-million dollar roads, they invested something like $5 million to provide all citizens with free transit service. Ridership went up 700% immediately and ten years after ridership is still up 1,100% thus saving the City millions of dollars on roads and other costs.

The City of Edmonton Renewable Energy Task Force is collecting information at this stage and will be making recommendations to City Council about a year from now.

If you have any questions let me know.

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