Carbon offset could benefit Burns Lake

A carbon offset program that can put cash back into the pockets of participants has been developed in Prince George.

A carbon offset program that can put cash back into the pockets of participants has been developed in Prince George.

The Carbon Offset Aggregation co-operative (COAC) was in Burns Lake on Sept. 8, 2013 to present the Village of Burns Lake (VBL) with an outline of how their co-op approach to collecting and selling carbon offsets could directly benefit not only the municipality, but private heavy truck and equipment operators in the area.

The COAC provides a return on investment to its members by collecting, or aggregating, carbon credits and selling them on the carbon credit market. Cash earned from those sales is then dispersed to members through a dividend cheque.

The co-op, for a fee, will equip heavy trucks or forestry equipment with satellite devices that transmit use data back to the COAC for analysis. Based on the data they receive, the co-op is able to recommend fuel cost reduction strategies to a member.

“It’s a complete energy reduction program for any fossil fuel burning piece of equipment,” COAC representative Scott Everall said. “We have the only approved methodology in the world to capture carbon credits from fossil fuel burning equipment.”

The program has provincial approval for its carbon credit monitoring and collection.

These fuel reductions strategies immediately result in cost savings for the client, and the emissions prevented through a verifiable reduction in fuel consumption, can be quantified and sold as carbon credits.

“Participants would likely see a return on investment within six months to a year,” said Everall. “We tell companies that they can save eight to 10 per cent of their fuel costs, just based on idling and speeding alone.”

The entire forklift fleet at L&M Lumber in Vanderhoof is participating in the program.

The program is primarily geared towards heavy truck and equipment operators, those who can identify fuel as one of their top costs after labour.

“With everyone we’ve worked with so far, there’s been room for improvement, whether it’s a small fleet with one or two trucks, right up to fleets of a hundred trucks,” Everall said.

The non-profit co-op also runs a reforestation project – the Forestry Carbon Project – through a 100 year agreement with the province to manage carbon offsets in the province’s forests.

Focussing on those ‘free to grow’ plantations that remain problematic – those plantations no longer under the responsibility of a forestry contractor but which may not be providing a healthy return on the land base – the co-op will plant trees on behalf of carbon offset buyers.

Purchasing carbon offsets to make up for a municipality’s emissions footprint is an annual option for municipalities across the province.

As reported in Lakes District News, April 3, 2013 issue, the Village of Burns Lake made the decision last year to not purchase carbon credits through a carbon offset fund.

The fund recommended by the province for municipal purchase was the Pacific Carbon Trust, which subsequently came under pointed criticism from then B.C. Auditor General John Doyle regarding its credibility.

Village councillors elected to keep $9600 worth of carbon offset dollars in-house, earmarked for later use in carbon footprint reduction projects. The carbon offset dollars the village is mandated to collect are put into a reserve fund.

In the case of the village’s $9600 last year, if placed with the COAC under their Forestry Carbon Project, it would have purchased two hectares worth of reforestation in the Lakes District. The plantations then become long-term additions to the villages carbon offset program, and could, given enough replantation over time, even make the village carbon negative.

Sheryl Worthing, VBL chief administrative officer, reports that Burns Lake will take advantage of the free assessment offered by COAC regarding the VBL fleet of service vehicles. Village staff will also be investigating the potential of the forestry carbon program, and will report their findings to council at a latter date.


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