Xeni Gwet’in Nation, 300 km west of 100 Mile House in central BC, has recently been taking action on energy efficiency with training and a new data management system to organize community data and allow more effective planning. The Nation, who are already leaders in managing community energy demand and building renewable energy systems, are taking their energy efficiency goals one step further with these initiatives.
The training gave the community’s housing and administration staff the knowledge to integrate energy efficiency into their everyday jobs, enabling them to be an active force in leading long-term energy savings in their community.
Staff were also trained in using eEthos, an online housing and energy management platform designed by Community Power in collaboration with First Nations. The software was implemented by the community to automate, track, and prioritize operational tasks including housing maintenance, scheduling and stock inventory. Natural Resources Canada funded both the training and the setup of the system in the community.
Caption: Community Power’s Todd McBride teaches Xeni Gwet’in Housing Manager Vera Quilt to use the eEthos data management system
Xeni Gwet’in’s Housing Manager Vera Quilt participated in the training. She’s looking forward to putting her learnings into practice and is excited about eEthos helping her to reduce her busy workload. “I use it mostly for house inspections and work orders so far. I gather info on the iPad and then sync it to my computer back at the office. If there’s a hole in the wall I can take a photo and upload it instead of taking so many notes.”
An energy efficiency vision for the future
Looking ahead, Xeni Gwet’in and Community Power have a big vision for energy efficiency in the community with plans to assess community-wide energy consumption and create a multi-year housing plan. There are also plans to address immediate health and safety needs by fixing 11 homes with broken wood stoves and chimneys. Xeni Gwet’in and Community Power are currently working together to access funding to support these projects.
“Three people this week have come to me with chimney problems. They have holes in them and you can see the embers burning through,” Vera said.
“I tell them I’ll look into it because it’s too much for their pockets. There’s 4 foot of snow and there’s no way of heating up the place. If I could do something for them, I’d be so happy. Like ‘wow’ we’re actually getting help!”
We treasure electricity because we’ve never had it
Xeni Gwet’in is an off-grid community reliant on diesel energy through a pay-as-you-go system. Homes hooked up to the main community grid pay approximately $0.07/kWh but most homes are connected to smaller hybrid solar-diesel units and pay closer to $1/kWh.
In an effort to address high energy costs and lack of energy infrastructure, the community has pulled together to reduce energy demand.
“We treasure electricity because we’ve never had it,” Vera said when asked about the community attitude to energy efficiency. “We don’t take it for granted. We never leave the lights on.”
The community put the system in place to champion energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint. The Nation is now on the path to installing a solar project to supply community energy needs.