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Energy savings: if it’s such a no-brainer. . .

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Interesting blog on the Washington Post highlighting the work of research group E2e.

Most, if not all of it, applies to Manitoba and the ongoing debate whether our power utility Manitoba Hydro should be building the new Keeyask and Conawapa hydroelectric generating stations, or looking at less costly, less risky ways to deliver power to our light bulbs, fridges and air conditioners.

One way is to get us to become more efficient in the power we consume, like getting rid of old appliances.

Manitoba Hydro has, in some circles at least, been slammed for not doing enough to curb energy use, what's otherwise known as demand-side management.

Critics say by Hydro being more aggressive in demand-side management, more Manitobans will use less power, making it available for export and reducing in part the demand for new dams. Plus, it would put less pressure on what you and I pay each month to Hydro.

This was most recently addressed at a recent Public Utilities Board meeting.

Ex-PUB chairman Graham Lane has raised it in a recent piece for the Frontier Centre For Public Policy.

"Reducing energy consumption and demand allows for deferrals/delays in building new generation and transmission lines (which can be very useful, particularly in times of low export demand), or, in the case of jurisdictions that have excess supply, enhancing exports and incremental export revenues," Lane said.

"Reducing energy consumption also assists in environmental objectives, which even in the case of Manitoba Hydro are furthered by energy efficiency, particularly when it is due to extreme cold, extreme heat, equipment failure, or a drought, the utility is required to import power, with most of the power coming from coal-fired generation in the United States."

But, as the Post blog points out, what's the best way to reduce energy consumption?

Seal leaks around our home's windows? Replace all the windows altogether? Insulate the basement? Outfit every light everywhere with a CFC bulb?

Get rid of the old fridge

We all know we should be doing these things and more, but a lot of us aren't.

One reason is cost. Another is our relatively low electricity and natural gas rates.

The argument goes because we pay so little there's no incentive for us to shell out the bucks to re-insulate the entire house or buy new kitchen appliances.

The savings aren't there. Yet. And until we really get hit in the pocketbook for the power we consume, nothing will change that.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca 

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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