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Offtober is 2014's version of our annual spotlight on conservation

Image of map showing how many homes Power Smart powers annually

Power Smart Month continues to help B.C. curb energy waste, slow growth in demand

Posted by Rob Klovance

BC Hydro's Power Smart Month continues to do its job, both in style and substance. Not only is it a chance for Power Smart to work with retail partners to deliver savings on energy efficient products, it plays a vital role in B.C.'s energy strategy.

At BC Hydro, we call it demand-side management (DSM). Essentially, it's the directive — laid out in the province's Clean Energy Act — to lean on conservation to reduce growth in B.C.'s electricity demand by 66% by 2020.

And it's working.

Today, efficient use of power and changes in behaviour in homes and businesses across B.C. save the equivalent amount of electricity to meet the annual needs of more than 440,000 homes. That's enough to power every home on Vancouver Island, the north coast and central B.C.

Demand for electricity will continue to grow along with B.C.'s population and economy, along with advances in technology that are part of the modern world. For example, today's average Canadian home features at least six more electrical devices than in 1990.

But while BC Hydro still needs to build new generation stations, including a proposed third dam on the Peace River known as Site C, we don't have to build as much as we would without conservation.

And playing a major role in spreading the word about that conservation is Power Smart Month, which gets a temporary rebrand in 2014 as "Offtober."

Offtober is 31 days of deals, prizes and cost-saving tips

Power Smart's fun Offtober campaign serves up a tantalizing contest with daily prizes and a whole lot of tips and product savings on powersmart.ca.

BC Hydro is offering hundreds of dollars in Power Smart incentives to residential customers to help them save energy and money. The rebates and product deals, for Power Smart Month, are available across the province from October 1 to 31.

"We have over 1,300 partner locations across B.C. we depend on to be a direct channel to the customer," says Power Smart marketing manager Jim Nelson. "These are the places where our customers shop. And our work with these partners allows for a permanent culture change in how they train staff and the products they stock and promote.

"We particularly love all the great special offers they come up with for our customers in Power Smart Month."

In addition to always-popular LED lighting and other product deals served up by retailers this Offtober, customers can get up to a $100 rebate online on high-efficiency clothes washers or dryers, and a $50 to $75 online rebate for some ENERGY STAR® refrigerators. By choosing ENERGY STAR, customers can save $150 or more over the lifetime of an appliance.

"One of the key factors to the success of Power Smart lies in our partnerships with retailers in order to get energy efficiency messaging and products through to customers," explains Kari Montrichard, a manager with Power Smart residential marketing. "London Drugs, for example, has been a great partner for us over the years. Store staff are always very keen to learn about the latest energy-efficient technologies and pass the information on to their customers at the store level."

In the past seven years, London Drugs has sold 84,620 energy efficient light bulbs and fixtures in their stores in B.C. In 2009, they came on as a partner in Power Smart's electronics program and have since sold 36,115 ENERGY STAR rated televisions.

Power Smart programs are tied directly to the gigawatt-hour savings they produce. It's vital that those programs continue to deliver on a reduction in B.C.'s demand growth so that BC Hydro's load planners — the folks tasked with predicting how fast demand will grow and how much more generating power we'll need to meet that demand — can do their jobs with reasonable accuracy.

"The idea of Power Smart Month is very important to our success," says Power Smart's Nelson. "We have relatively small marketing and advertising dollars compared to all the large companies vying for the attention of British Columbians, so by concentrating our efforts for campaigns like Power Smart Month each October, we're able to break through and reach our customers. "

Learn more about Offtober at powersmart.ca.

Rob Klovance is managing editor of bchydro.com.