THE staff at Jaco EcoSolutions have a confession: They like to raid the fridge.
They're not scrounging for late-night snacks though. They're looking for reusable parts.
So far, they've raided 20,000 fridges as part of Manitoba Hydro's two-year-old Refrigerator Retirement Program.
The St. Boniface business recycles 95 per cent of each refrigerator and sends the remaining five per cent to landfills once hazardous materials, such as freon, are safely disposed. The ozone layer-damaging gas is found in fridges made before 1995.
"I was in manufacturing before, which is bad for the environment," said Peter Creran, manager at Jaco. "It was at the total opposite end of the spectrum, but now I'm very fortunate to be a part of this business because it's for a good cause."
He estimates there are 190,000 insufficient refrigerators in Manitoba and hopes to retrieve more than 30,000 within the next year.
"I want to get more refrigerators. There's still a lot of product out there," said Creran. "I would even take stoves and hot-water tanks."
Under Manitoba Hydro's plan, Manitobans will collectively save $7.7 million on their bills in the next year alone if they remove old refrigerators from their kitchens.
"There's not enough people partaking in energy reduction," said Lloyd Kuczek, vice-president, customer care and marketing, energy conservation for Manitoba Hydro.
The Public Utilities Board has said the Crown utility has to liven up its Power Smart energy-efficiency program to get more people to participate, particularly with the prospect of rising electricity rates as a result of Hydro embarking on a decade-long, $20-billion plan to build two northern generating stations and the Bipole III transmission line.
"Given an outlook where rates are forecast to more than double over the next 20 years... the board is of the view that Manitoba Hydro should be providing ratepayers with the tools to mitigate their exposure to rising electricity bills," the PUB said in a recent order.