Tsay Keh Dene Nation, an off-grid community in north-central British Columbia, took their energy efficiency efforts to the next level by training an Energy Mentor to lead community energy saving initiatives and empower community members to reduce their use.
An Energy Mentor is a trusted community member who is trained to support community members who struggle with high electricity bills to complete energy saving measures that reduce energy waste. Energy Mentors also help implement community energy management plans, leading wider energy actions that will help their community achieve their energy goals.
Tsay Keh Dene Housing Manager Elaine McIssac was trained as an Energy Mentor in 2017 and has been leading energy change in the community ever since. The training covered topics such as saving energy in the home, home health and safety, and how to support others with saving energy. Community Power designed and delivered the training that was funded by BC Hydro.
“I wanted to be an Energy Mentor because I care about the community. I care about the next generation. I want to educate the community on how to save power and reduce energy consumption,” Elaine said.
“Tsay Keh pays the power bills so the community is not too concerned with energy use. I want them to understand it costs Tsay Keh money every year to pay for power, and the more money goes into power, the more it takes away from community.”
Elaine leads a range of energy efficiency projects from education and engagement, to home weatherization and installing LED lightbulbs and programmable thermostats. Additionally, she coordinated a workshop to train community members to draft proof their homes by patching any holes in the walls, as part of the community’s Health and Wellness week.
“The community was really excited for this workshop. We explained how to drafts cut energy and raise bills, and they were excited to learn skills and use them in their own homes. As the Housing Manager, I want people to take more pride in their homes. I’m hoping this is good first step.”
An Energy Vision for the Community
Elaine has big plans for the community in the future, including regular dinners to educate and empower community members to cut their energy use.
“What the community needs is continued interaction. The more they learn, the more they understand. It’s the only way it will stick. We could show the community their power bills and challenge them to cut their power use in half. We can enter people for a prize.”
She also wants the community to know exactly how many community dollars are going to pay for utility bills each year.
“I want to provide a hand-out showing the yearly spend on energy, especially in comparison with a more energy conscious community.”
In addition to showing energy leadership though community mentorship, Tsay Keh Dene Nation is also piloting the Youth Energy Mentorship Program. This capacity building program, developed with Community Power and funded by BC Hydro, trains high school students to become energy leaders in their community.
Community members learn how to patch holes to draft proof their own homes at a community workshop
Community members learn about energy efficiency before learning hands-on skills
Community members hammer away at drywall before learning how to patch the holes