Friday, February 3, 2012

Surrey’s ENERGYShift Open House

Last night I attended a panel discussion on Surrey’s ENERGYShift energy and emissions reduction plan. This plan is Provincially mandated. The City of Langley and Township of Langley have similar plans. What I’ll say about Surrey is that they have seemed to really put a lot more effort into marketing the plan than other municipalities in the South of Fraser. With some municipalities you get the feeling that they have to do the plan while in Surrey it seems like they are seeing this as an opportunity to revision the entire city as a clean energy hub for the region. Surrey wants to attract green jobs.

Last Night's Panel Discussion
I will briefly outline the thoughts of the different panel members at last night’s discussion.

Gordon Price: He talked about how Greenfield development needs to be more like East Clayton. He also said that the biggest challenge will be how Surrey deals with infill development.

Nancy Olewiler: She talked on why local government should deal with climate change and shift to clean energy sources even while the federal government drops the ball our environment. She noticed that the cost of climate change will be 3% of GDP per year while the cost of dealing with climate change is 1% of GDP. Also, the cost of using fossil-fuel energy sources will continue to go up, so it would be good to shift to something better and cheaper in the long run.

Nimal Rajapakse: He noticed that 80% of energy use in Surrey is from fossil-fuel energy. He said that we must embrace next-generation energy such as bio-fuel, wave, and geothermal. He also noticed that the green technology sector in Germany is larger than auto sector. This was in part because of help from senior government.

Penny Priddy: She talked about how 13.8% of people in Surrey have a low-income and are energy vulnerable. She also noted that people who have a low-income are the most in need of an energy-retrofits for their housing, but can’t afford to do it. She said that there is increased health costs to living in energy-inefficient housing for people who have a low-income as they are forced to not heat their home which results in illness. She said that it would be cheaper for the government to pay for energy-retrofits than the current inaction which ends up with people using the healthcare system. She also said that there isn’t enough post-secondary seats in Surrey and programs to teach people green-skills.

All the panelist seemed to agree that to actually see a big shift in energy policy like in Northern Europe, the federal government will have to play a greater role than they do today.

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