Energy report gives recommendations, town council to pursue

The Town and MD of Pincher Creek underwent a baseline survey to understand the current state of affairs within the region with respect to energy, where the region scored 43 per cent. Following the receipt of this report in the May 13 town council meeting, council decided to begin to act on opportunities communicated.

The Quest Smart Energy Communities Benchmark report highlighted Pincher Creek’s multi-sectoral team driving community energy goals, community organizations, ongoing energy and emissions work, landfill diversification and walking paths as strengths in the region.

However, key opportunities identified for improvement are public engagement on energy use, land management and energy-water relationships, community energy inventory and mapping, staff training for climate resiliency, energy load management, financial levers for densification and community-wide economic analysis.

Mayor Anderberg noted in the meeting that he was pleased with the performance of Pincher Creek on the municipal front, highlighting significant energy savings and upgrades in facilities.

He saw the biggest gaps in the public-facing aspects of the report. Some areas of improvement outlined are accountability to social equity, educational sessions and planning, and further public engagement on matters of energy, land use, water and mobility networks.

Specific recommendations in the report called for better public engagement and public participation on nearly every front.

Anderberg also referenced the low scores around partnerships with utility companies. In regard to community energy strategy, Quest called on Pincher Creek Quest to “activate and operationalize the established partnership between the community, local utility, and community-based organizations to expedite the provision of energy and climate adaptation/resilience initiatives investments.”

According to the presentation of Quest to council, the report outlines the importance of programs the region is implementing such as the corporate emissions and energy reduction strategy and the Clean Energy Improvement Program to support homeowners with energy and resiliency retrofits.

Further work in the Quest program will address some of the opportunities for improvement. Quest will conduct a community workshop on energy and emissions and an economic assessment.

According to council documents, this process is expected to run until March 2025, with the bulk of work coming in the summer of 2024. The budget for completing the project is about $6,000, and the work will culminate with Pincher Creek receiving a new score.

“It’s a fantastic report. And if we just accept it as information, it will disappear onto the shelf,” said Coun. Wayne Oliver.

“I would like it if administration would bring back some suggestions for things we can adopt, implement and improve on, to get a better score next time.”

Oliver moved the motion that council direct administration to bring back specific items from the opportunities to pursue, which was carried.

Mia Parker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze