PEI’s schools are very vulnerable to any increase in the price of oil. (Here is a link to the risk for schools) So of course is PEI itself.
How can we reduce this risk? How can be get ahead of the risk and create a whole new economy that regular Islanders can participate in?
Stop heating with oil!
One of the smartest things we did on PEI was to kick start wind energy by deliberately creating enough scale at the outset by the Provincial & Federal Governments taking their share of the power from wind. This guarantee of use, built the foundation.
We can do this with wood heat as well. All Public Buildings could shift from oil to wood.
This chart shows PEI’s Energy use and costs in the ramp up in 2008. Nearly $200 million, A THIRD OF PEI’S INCOME TAX REVENUES – is spent on heating oil. While prices are lower today (71 cents vs 1.09) we can be sure that in the future even $1.09 will look like a bargain.
What if we started to use this same model with PEI’s Public Buildings? What if we converted from oil to Wood?
This is easier than you might think. Here is Dick Arsenault taking us around the test of a new Pellet/Chip furnace at the Ecole Evangeline in Western PEI.
You will see that such a furnace
- Can be easily installed
- Can be fed easily
- Has NO emissions
- Is easy to clean
- Can save a school about $100,000 a year
There are 2 new schools that will be built in the next year. There is federal money.
If we went full tilt in the public sector and went wood (pellet and Chip) we would create the support systems and the local businesses that we could then lever to help with the rest of PEI’s oil heating.
Lots of real jobs that are not going to go away will be created.
If we can pull this off, we would have to do a lot of work on conservation as well that also leads to many new jobs, then $200,000,000 at least will stay in the hands of Islanders.
The biggest tax break ever.
PEI will also be on track to start to reduce its dependency on oil and the outside.
Oh but Rob there is not enough wood for that!
Yes there is. Here is a snip from Roy MacMullin’s great piece on this question:
Looking at a wood alternative, we would have to cut 2.8 million cords of wood to replace this volume of oil. (For all of Atlantic Canada) To compare, the existing residential usage of hardwood in New Brunswick is roughly 500,000 cords each year.
Using wood as a solution requires an additional 332 thousand cords to be harvested annually to displace the New Brunswick fuel oil requirement. (Roy lives in NB) This shouldn’t be a problem with mills shutting down. Pellets and briquettes can use softwood that is compressed to provide the same heat density of hardwood, with less moisture content.
Wood heat could very quickly meet the requirements of a conversion program. The reduction of oil purchases of 943,000 barrels would retain $137 million a year in the New Brunswick economy as opposed to sending it offshore. Over the years, this would be the equivalent of investing over a billion dollars in the local economy.
If Efficiency NB extended their offer of $2,250 to oil heat customers converting to wood, it would go a long way toward alleviating the problems of oil prices. The cost of the providing stoves would be $135 million (60,000 x $2,250), probably spent over a number of years.
The use of EPA rated stoves ensures an efficiency of 70% and emissions that are less than 10% of previous generation stoves. In urban areas, the use of pellet or briquettes may have to be mandatory with round wood as a rural option.
We are at the beginning of an emergency, perhaps a low intensity war. This change from low cost energy to high cost energy will sap our resources, leave us poor and eventually cold. If we fail to adapt to the heating oil challenge as well as the other aspects of peak oil, we lose.
This is surely the easiest political choice before us? There is no downside.