A Cheakamus Crossing resident upset over a malfunctioning and costly energy system has launched a public survey to try and get some answers.
Erica Finnsson spoke to Pique last week about the ongoing problems she’s encountered with the neighbourhood’s District Energy System (DES), a closed ambient heating method that captures waste heat from Whistler’s sewage treatment plant to pump into homes. It’s been touted for its energy efficiency and savings on monthly utility bills, although a number of residents have run up thousands of dollars in maintenance and repair costs since the system was installed over four years ago.
“I’m committed, I have the time, my patience is wearing thin but I’d like to think I have the patience to do this, and I’m not going to back down,” Finnsson said last week.
The Rise resident said she has incurred $2,500 in repair costs last year and wants “every penny” recouped. Several other Cheakamus residents have also come forward to voice their outrage over the system and increasing repair costs since the RMOW commissioned municipal subsidiary Whistler Development Corporation to contract out the installation of the state-of-the-art system in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympics.
Finnsson has now launched a public survey for Cheakamus residents after presenting her concerns in a letter to council last week to try and identify some of the issues homeowners have run into with their own unit. It can be viewed at www.surveymonkey.com/s/9PK3LJD.
"I’m going to follow up with the municipality and the Whistler Development Corporation with more information so that they don’t think I’m one enthusiastic whiner and I can show them in writing that there are many more of us (with problems)," Finnsson said in a follow-up interview Sunday, Jan. 18.
The RMOW has committed to its own study of the controversial system in 2015. The efficiency study will likely be carried out by an independent party and is expected to assess the individual units of several DES users that will be compared to other methods of space and hot water heating. But Finnsson said a more comprehensive analysis of the DES is needed.
"I don’t think the efficiency study is the route they need to be taking," she said. "I think they need to analyze the system from start to finish and find out why it’s broken. This is not about efficiency."
The municipality is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the DES from the waste water treatment plant up until the Cheakamus Crossing property line. The upkeep of the system within each individual unit is up to the homeowner, however.