March 6, 2006

Local power distributors set example for creating culture of energy conservation

Over the past year, Ontario's local electricity distribution companies (LDCs) have spearheaded the introduction of innovative energy conservation programs in their communities, including the launch of "smart meter" pilot projects, designed to support the creation of a "conservation culture" in Ontario. These projects and other conservation activities were a major discussion topic at Enercom, the annual conference of the Electricity Distributors Association (EDA), held in Toronto last week. The event coincided with the February 27 passage of Bill 21, the Energy Conservation Responsibility Act, 2005, which is intended to provide the framework to implement the government's smart metering initiative in the province.

"The electricity distribution sector recognizes the importance of substantial and timely conservation measures in the face of Ontario's supply challenges," said EDA chair Michael Angemeer, who is also president and CEO of Veridian, an electricity distribution company serving more than 104,000 customers in communities east of Toronto, extending from Pickering and Ajax through to Belleville and north as far as Gravenhurst and Sunderland

"As the entities that will own, install, operate and maintain smart meters, Ontario's electricity distributors realize the importance of having a framework that facilitates the implementation of this important government initiative," EDA CEO Charlie Macaluso observed,

"Regulations to further facilitate smart meter implementation will continue to flow out of the new legislation over the coming weeks." he continued, adding, "It is critical that the roles and responsibilities of all key players, including the government and regulators, are clearly delineated in order to successfully implement the initiative."

The EDA indicated that it is prepared to work co-operatively with the provincial government in helping formulate the regulations and contributing its input on decisions still to be made by the government about various elements of Bill 21, including the direction and role of the smart meter entity.

For its part, Veridian Corporation has been working with its customers and its industry and government partners over the past year to promote energy conservation and demand management within its service territory and business facilities. Its partners include municipalities, other local electricity distribution utilities, the EDA, the powerWISE(r) founding utilities and the Ontario Power Authority's Conservation Bureau, as well as the Ontario government.

"Local distribution companies like ours have a responsibility to lead the way in creating a conservation culture in Ontario," said Veridian's Angemeer.

The company began within its own operations, initially focusing on its two largest facilities in Ajax and Pickering which together comprise about 55,000 square feet of office and 30,000 square feet of warehouse and garage space. Both buildings were already equipped with energy-efficient features, including T8 fluorescent and compact fluorescent office lighting, double-glazed windows and, in Ajax, a ground source heat pump system for space heating and cooling. "We initially thought that achieving a 10% savings in buildings that were already so energy efficient would be a daunting task," said Angemeer.

Harnessing in-house expertise, Angemeer assembled a volunteer group of Veridian employees and assigned them a mandate of to find ways to reduce the company's use of electricity. Rising to the challenge, the group has already found and implemented measures that have reduced electricity consumption by about 6%. Measures included simple, low-cost initiatives such as adjusting thermostats for night setbacks, finding the optimal heating and cooling temperatures, closing blinds at night and turning off or removing unnecessary lighting.

"With very little up front cost, we've reduced annual consumption by about 79,000 kWh," said Angemeer, adding, "we've only just begun to seek out available conservation opportunities."

More information is available from George Armstrong at Veridian, 905/427-9870, extension 2202, or on the powerWISE Web site, www.powerwise.ca.

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