Blake Hranac: Municipal Energy Manager of 2022
In 2023, Blake Hranac began a new full-time position as Facilities & Energy Manager for the Town of Taber. For the previous two years, he had been Municipal Energy Manager, a position funded in part by the Government of Alberta.
In this capacity, he helped the Town of Taber develop an energy management plan and supported significant projects. For example, Blake helped bring thirteen electric vehicle charging stations to Taber and supported the Aquafun Centre’s combined heat and power (CHP) half million dollar installation. He also made LED and smart thermostat upgrades in several facilities, enrolled Taber in the Demand Response Program, and helped procure an electric ice resurfacer.
We interviewed Blake shortly before he started his permanent position with the Town of Taber, after he was awarded Municipal Energy Manager of the Year by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre.
What drew you to this role?
I previously worked for the Town of Taber as the engineering technologist and I basically was approached by the Director of Engineering and Public Works to jump into this role. I really enjoy working for the municipality, so, for me, it was “how can I continue to help”?
There was already quite a big list of things to look into when I started. We have a bunch of aging buildings, I want to say close to 40 in our portfolio. There was a need to look at some of these facilities a little bit closer and see what we can do there for energy savings.
What are you most proud of having accomplished so far?
In terms of the role, there’s a lot more awareness of it now. Different departments come to me to say, hey, can we look at maybe doing something different? This piece of equipment is aging, we’re looking to replace it. What can we do that’s more energy efficient? Awareness within the municipality is huge now, whereas we didn’t really have those conversations before.
One of the things we’ve been able to do so far is get a project off the ground for a ground-mounted solar installation. It’s the first that’s tied to a town-owned facility. We’re proud of that.
What kind of impact has all this work contributed to?
With the projects we’ve completed to date that equates to an 18 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions within the Town of Taber. And a twenty-something percent reduction in electricity usage. It’s quite substantial. There’s a lot more work that we can do, but it’s a great start. Council and Administration are both on board to continue with these kinds of projects. So yeah, moving forward, it’s just continuing on with that work. We’re quite proud of it for sure.
When you think back on the projects you’ve completed, and think about the town as a whole, what’s the difference that you see in Taber now?
One of the key pieces is our pool facility’s [combined heat and power generation units]. They are 35 kiloWatt. As you go through town, you can see them. It’s tough to tell what it is unless you know, but it’s a good little reminder to me when I’m driving into work of what we’ve done so far.
On the administration side, for us, it’s finding the reductions in our utility bills, because, you know, energy prices are going up, so we have to try to offset that somehow. A lot of the work we’re doing now is accomplishing that. And then we are working on a Clean Energy Improvement Program, as well, for residents to take advantage of some of the clean energy technology that’s out there. There’s a lot of noise about that within the community, so we’re happy to be able to help with that as well.
It’s been really good. We’ve had buy in from Council and Administration. And yeah, we’ve been happy with the progress we’ve made and moving forward as well.