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Castlegar Swaps Out The Light Bulbs

energy saver CFL bulb

Castlegar’s Green Committee’s first project looks to be quite popular with the town…

The event will be held February 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Castlegar and District Community Complex.

Citizens are encouraged to bring two incandescent bulbs, two per household, in exchange for two new compact fluorescent bulbs — renters and home owners are both welcomed.

Chernoff said they have approximately 1,200 bulbs, so first come first serve for this event. “I would love for us to run out of light bulbs because that will mean the event was a success.” Chernoff said.

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This is a great PR event for the City to get people thinking about their energy usage and simple ways to reduce it. I’m sure there are people in town who believe that city money shouldn’t be used for these types of projects. I am skeptical of the value to the community at large when it doesn’t benefit every house in town, but it will produce some good Green PR.

Changing out light bulbs is a small step towards a sustainable community. It is vital that every opportunity to reduce energy is seriously understood in terms of needs and wants for the future. We are fortunate here in the Kootenays that the vast majority of all our electricity comes from large hydro projects on fairly clean rivers which should have a decent long term viability. In this sense, reducing energy makes sense for the community as part of an Energy Descent Action Plan (no, Castlegar doesn’t have one of these) or something similar, but the light bulbs won’t gain the city anything in carbon reduction brownie points. Another issue is that providing light bulbs to residents is really outside the mandate of a local government, and it is perhaps encouraging the falicy that it is worth waiting for someone else to take action and the level of expectation from the community for these type of giveaways – which are really just a transfer of your tax dollars to the lucky individuals and households who receive the 1,200 globes. – probably about a quarter to a third of the community.

Maybe I’ll see you there next Saturday, I’m hoping that there will be a good crowd of people interested in getting something for almost nothing.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

3 thoughts on “Castlegar Swaps Out The Light Bulbs

  1. At the beginning of last year we had an energy shortage in South Africa – Eskom (our incumbent electricity supplier) could not meet the peak demand, resulting in planned rolling black outs. Part of the demand side management programme was to hand out energy efficient light bulbs for free – you could even get them delivered with your pizza! It really did make a difference. This and other interventions have kept the lights on while they build new generation plants (unfortunately coal fired).

    This year we will also see the introduction of a tax on incandescent light bulbs (which the manufacturer will pay).

  2. Duncan, that's a great example of passive demand side management. Getting people to change with little impact on how/what they actually do. I understand the premise of an energy company handing these out – it may be way cheaper than expanding the capacity of the service, but other than the green-goodwill, I'm not sure what benefit Castlegar City Council actually receives from this program.

  3. One way that you could view it is as an educational and awareness campaign. I think CFL's are a good first step for people to become more aware of energy usage and energy efficiency. I do think that making the *choice* to buy a CFL involves more personal thought and change, but some people may never make that choice.

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