Just in time for homeowners in the South Slave to batten down the hatches for the long, cold winter, one of the territory’s top energy-saving advocates has opened an outlet to help residents lower their consumption and costs.
Arctic Energy Alliance (AEA), an association offering training, tools and rebates on sustainable energy practices, has opened an office in Hay River, officially making its services available in every region of the territory.
“There’s a lot of people who live in the South Slave region,” said Louie Azzolini, executive director of AEA. “There’s an abundance of renewable energy resources and hopefully the people’s opportunities to get assistance and advice is going to grow leaps and bounds.”
The office is currently a one-man operation headed by Tom Gross, a 30-year veteran of the housing industry who has spent the last 20 years working as a technical manager with the NWT Housing Corp. following a decade of service in Cambridge Bay.
“I’ve got quite a bit of experience with house design, mechanical systems, ventilation, that type of thing,” Gross said. “Energy efficiency has always been something that’s been a big interest to me. When this job came up it was right up my alley, so to speak, and my reason for applying for it was my interest in energy reduction and making houses more efficient.”
Though the office only officially opened its doors on Nov. 6, Gross is enthusiastic about getting straight to work.
“I’m hoping to be able to assist people within the region with lowering their energy costs,” he said. “I’ll be working with a team of energy specialists out of Yellowknife, as well. I’ll get the opportunity to work with these guys that really know what they’re doing.”
Like other AEA program managers, Gross will travel the region to conduct workshops, “EnerGuide 80” building compliance inspections and info sessions with anyone interested in cutting their heating and electricity bills.
“One of the objectives will be to hold workshops on different things,” Gross said. “I’ll cover pellet stoves, pellet boilers, biomass, probably heat recovery ventilators to improve the efficiency of homes and lower the cost.”
Gross’ presence will also give those in the South Slave easier access to the organization’s many rebate programs, available for any individual or organization that financially invests into making sure their buildings operate efficiently.
“Bottom line, it’s about being able to provide better client service,” said Azzolini of the new office. “It’s about the people that the Arctic Energy Alliance serves. The ability of this organization to provide one-on-one, personalized service – we couldn’t do that out of one office out of Fort Simpson or from Yellowknife.”
The government of the NWT is providing funding for the new office, according to Azzolini. It invested $200,000 into the new outlet, covering Gross’ salary, the office space and any necessary equipment. Over the next year, AEA will be looking into hiring an administrative position as well.
“While we as an organization are fortunate enough to be able to hire someone of Tom’s expertise and background, it wouldn’t be possible unless the GNWT made that investment,” Azzolini said. “It speaks to the fact that they’re taking the whole energy cost and the desire to move towards alternative energies very seriously.”
All in all, the crew at AEA is excited for the prospective change coming to the South Slave.
“We’ve been trying to get the message out that we as individuals can take action and there are people like Tom that we can reach out to,” Azzolini said. “We support and encourage people that are considering alternative energy or wanting to reduce their energy and heating consumption. Please just give us a call; we really, honestly want to make a difference.”