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Energy retrofit program being touted

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“Save electricity, save money, and help the environment. All in one move.”

Small businesses are encouraged to find out more about the “Power Saving Blitz” program, which offers up to $1,000 in free energy retrofits, this Wednesday (Feb. 4) during the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s “Business After Hours” upstairs at La Place Rendez-Vous.

Running from 5:30-7 p.m., the event is being co-hosted by the Fort Frances Power Corp. and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp.

“We were approached by the Fort Frances Power Corp., who have this new program they wanted to get out to the business community, and maybe thought that hosting a ‘Business After Hours’ would be a great way to do that,” noted Chamber manager Dawn Booth.

“We were certainly more than excited to partner with them and make this happen.”

Booth said the Chamber is hoping for a larger than usual turnout for this particular “Business After Hours,” adding she has invited all the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce members, as well as asked the BIA to invite its members.

She also sent invitations to the Emo and Rainy River Chambers of Commerce and various tourist organizations (businesses which are not FFPC customers still can access the program through Hydro One).

“We want to try and get as many businesses out to learn about these different programs as possible,” Booth remarked. “Not only is the FFPC going to be there explaining their program, but the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines will be there talking about the Northern Energy Programs, as well.”

“[The ‘Power Savings Blitz’] is a great program, which is sponsored by the Ontario Power Authority,” said Lori Cain, cost and regulatory analyst for the FFPC.

“We do have a lot of small, local businesses and we really hope they take advantage of this,” she added.

The program offers a free electricity assessment, as well as funding up to $1,000 for lighting and water heating retrofits for small commercial businesses.

Cain noted a qualified contractor to carry out the assessments and retrofits still is being selected, but outlined how the program is expected to be carried out.

“It is described as being kind of like the ice cream truck. [The contractor] will drive up, come in, and do $1,000 worth of work on your business at no charge to the customer,” she explained, adding customers who want more than $1,000 work then can look into another program—the Electricity Retrofit Incentive Program (ERIP)—to access more savings.

The goal is to reduce electricity consumption and provide electricity savings through relatively simple upgrades, like installing energy-efficient T8 lighting and insulating water heaters.

As far as eligibility requirements, the program is open to small commercial businesses in the office or non-food sub-sectors, with an electricity demand of less than 50kW (food-related businesses have unique requirements that may be addressed by other programs in the future).

Cain said compared to some other incentive programs, the “Power Savings Blitz” one is easy to use.

She reiterated the FFPC is hoping local businesses come out this Wednesday and consider taking advantage of the program.

“We’re really excited,” she enthused. “We know we’ve had quite a bit of interest already from our small business customers, but this is our introduction to the community and we hope that people come out and mix-and-mingle.”

Cain said the OPA funds several types of energy- and money-saving programs but if the public doesn’t utilize them, “then the money goes away.”

“I am hoping people come on board. We have a lot of small businesses—that’s the core of this community,” she stressed. “Why not save? We have quite reasonable power rates, but let’s take advantage of saving even more.”

Wednesday’s event also will feature complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and draw prizes.

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