Essex Region – A significant step in the battle against climate change is well underway in the Essex region, with the initiation of a Regional Energy Plan (REP). This Plan, which is made possible thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, will help the community to better understand current energy consumption, identify opportunities for energy efficiency, help to meet the community’s climate priorities, and strengthen the local economy. All seven Essex County municipalities are partners in this comprehensive plan, which is being co-led by the County of Essex and Essex Region Conservation Authority, and builds on work undertaken by the City of Windsor.
Gary McNamara was acclaimed Chair of the Community Task Force for the Regional Energy Plan at its July 29th virtual meeting. Warden McNamara is also the Chair of the AMO Energy Task Force, Chair of Essex Power Corporation, and a Board Member of Utilismart Corporation.
“Recognizing the seriousness and urgency of the climate crisis, we are fortunate to be working with a team to develop our Regional Energy Plan within an accelerated timeline,” explained Warden McNamara. While it typically takes up to two years to undertake such a vast analysis, the Regional Energy Plan for Essex County is expected to yield its recommendations for implementation within eight months. “Through the REP, we will have a thorough understanding of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from homes, transportation, industry and the greenhouse sector, along with the actions needed to implement change.”
Dan Hanson of Powerserve Inc. and a Board member and Past President of the Windsor Construction Association will serve as the Task Force Co-Chair. An electrician by trade, Mr. Hanson recognizes the importance of ensuring that public and private sectors, as well as all levels of government, need to work collaboratively to ensure that the goal of the Plan can be met for a future of sustainability.
“It is especially of note that with increased energy efficiency comes increased jobs, with a goal of creating 1,000 new jobs in the next five years alone,” said Hanson. “Goals also include competitive energy costs for both residents and businesses, and returning more than $15 Billion to the local economy by 2041.”
The Community Task Force includes stakeholders from a diverse range of backgrounds to provide insight and expertise relating to energy locally. The Task Force supported the Plan’s aspirational vision, which is that by 2050, “The Essex Region is a globally innovative and sustainable energy centre of excellence that benefits the environment, economy and quality of life for residents and businesses”.
Significant progress has already been made, with the establishment of baseline data, modelling of energy use to 2041 and modelling of scenarios to lower greenhouse gas emissions from various sectors.
Preliminary analysis suggests that household energy use accounts for about 15% of our County’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions, higher than both the provincial and Canadian average and nearly double the global best practice. Transportation in this region accounts for nearly 30%.
“This data demonstrates that we each have an opportunity to make a big difference in reducing our own personal energy use and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our own lives,” added McNamara. “By becoming knowledgeable and conscientious about how we use energy in our homes, and benefitting from the lessons we’ve learned about minimizing personal or work-related car trips through our COVID-19 experience, we can all make a really significant impact in mitigating climate change.”
In the coming weeks, a website will be launched to provide information about the REP to the community, as well as recommendations about early actions we can all take in our own homes. The Task Force will also be conducting a survey to gather information from the community about energy uses and priority areas for change.
Manager of Communications & Organizational Development
County of Essex
519-776-6441 ext. 1330
Climate Change Specialist
Essex Region Conservation Authority
519-776-5209 ext. 388