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DOING SOME DIGGING Let’s make every day Earth Day

Tuesday, April 22, was Earth Day, a day to rededicate ourselves to the preservation of Planet Earth. The television...


Tuesday, April 22, was Earth Day, a day to rededicate ourselves to the preservation of Planet Earth. The television news was abuzz with stories of local groups making a difference. As the maxim says: ‘Think globally and act locally.’ In other words, what every individual or corporation does will make a difference. Whether that difference is a bad one (burning forests) or a good one (planting trees), it is made at the local level. The point is to make a positive difference every day, not only once a year.

Earth Day is also an occasion of divergent press releases.

Ron Osborne, president and CEO of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), issued an Earth Day challenge to industry, commerce and public sector organizations in the province to commit themselves to purchase a percentage of their electricity as “Green Power”. Presumably Green Power comes from renewable sources such as the sun or wind rather than from coal- or gas-burning generation plants. OPG brags that 20% of the electricity used at its headquarters, or about 6,800 MWh per year, comes from Green Power.

“The purchase of Green Power can have important benefits for your business that are well beyond the slight premium to your overall electricity expenditure,” said Osborne. He points out that RBC Financial Group, FAG Bearings and Husky Injection Molding have bought Green Power in the last year and thus reduced their carbon dioxide emissions.

The foregoing sounds like a bit of an advertisement for a premium electric supply service at a time when decreased usage is the foremost corporate strategy.

And Canada’s mining, manufacturing and construction industries are using less power. According to NRCan and the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC), the combined energy efficiency of these three sectors is up by more than 18% in the last 11 years. Energy efficiency has saved them more than $2.8 billion. Besides lowering costs, these industries are reducing their emissions of greenhouse gases, which play a role in global warming.

It’s a win-win situation says CIPEC executive board chair Douglas Speers. “The road ahead offers many challenges for CIPEC participants. But these challenges, including rising energy costs, provide the incentive companies need to become more energy-efficient.”

The CIPEC network of 45 trade associations represents more than 5,000 companies and about 95% of secondary industry energy demand. CIPEC’s services have been available to manufacturing and mining since 1975, and it expanded last year to include the energy-producing sector.

Looks to me like successful companies cut energy use and reduce greenhouse gases. That lowers production costs and keeps them competitive. This is a goal worth pursuing.

Maybe if there is a bit of money left over at the end of the year, they might splurge some of their savings on higher-priced Green Power. Maybe not.


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