Environmental Communication Options

Community-owned green energy projects helping to drive new business in Southwestern Ontario

On Behalf of Federation of Community Power Cooperatives on Tuesday 21st of April 2015 17:18:05 PM

Save the earth - and the economy

(April 21, 2015) This Earth Day marks a major turning point for both our planet and our global economy, with a surge in the use of zero emissions renewable energy.

According to a new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), there was a 31% jump in renewable energy sector investment across Canada in 2014 with $8 billion spent on developing green energy projects.  Locally, community co-ops are developing numerous projects -- everything from farm-based biogas and solar projects around Aylmer Ont., to large solar rooftop projects in Waterloo, London, Cambridge and other centres.

“These are very exciting times for renewable energy.  Costs have dropped significantly, technology has improved, and electricity system managers have made the leap on integrating these new energy sources.  The result is a big upswing in jobs and investment in this sector, exactly what our country needs right now with our oil sector stalling out and the threat of climate change growing,” says Judith Lipp, President of the Federation of Community Power Cooperatives (FCPC).

An important part of the renewable energy growth story is the role of community-owned energy projects.  Solar, wind, biogas and biomass projects owned by community co-ops, public institutions and municipalities are delivering triple bottom line returns for communities, including jobs and revenue, environmental benefits, and more resilient local energy systems.

“In Guelph, Guelph Renewable Energy Co-op is completing two commercial solar projects that will also help meet the goals of the city’s Community Energy Initiative.  These systems are part of a wave of projects for which co-ops have raised more than $27 million through community bond and share sales across the province -- and we’re just getting started,” says board member Evan Ferrari.

The UNEP report makes it clear how a combination of falling costs and improving technology is making green energy the “go to” source of energy worldwide, with 30% more power being put online per dollar invested today compared to 2011.  The UNEP report estimates that 2014’s record amount of global renewable energy investment will provide enough zero emission energy to displace 1.3 gigatonnes of CO2 worldwide, the equivalent of eliminating almost all of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions twice over.

“Ontario made a smart decision to take a leadership role in what is now a booming worldwide industry,” points out Lipp.  “Our U.S. neighbours are now installing a solar system every two minutes. Here in Ontario, wind power is already cheaper than new nuclear reactors and we will certainly see even lower prices for all renewable sources in the next round of project procurement.”

Lipp acknowledges that renewable energy development has not been without controversy in Ontario, which is why she believes that community involvement is invaluable. “Studies and real-life experience have both shown that where community members are part of a project, concern about renewable energy largely vanishes,” she points out.  “Community ownership can really take wind and solar projects further by involving the community in selecting locations, raising investment dollars, and keeping jobs and investment returns in the local area.”

“The community power sector is, in many ways, the untold success story of Ontario’s green energy efforts,” adds Shane Mulligan, general manager of LIFE Co-op, which is developing solar projects across the province. “We are making renewable energy work for local communities while also making sure our communities benefit from being a part of one of the world’s fastest growing industries.“

For further information, contact:

Judith Lipp, President
Federation of Community Power Co-ops
(416) 583-2661

Evan Ferrari, Sustainability Consultant
Guelph Renewable Energy Co-operative
(519) 836-8068

Shane Mulligan, General Manager
Local Initiative for Future Energy (LIFE) Co-op
(866) 889-9155


Community Power Backgrounder

Local green energy co-ops in Southwestern Ontario

AGRIS Solar Co-operative
Website: agrissolar.coop
Projects built or contracts awarded: 1000
Contact: Sean Kelly, Director of Membership & Government Relations
Phone: (905) 829-3336 x141

E-mail: seank@sparksolar.ca

AMBER Renewable Energy Co-operative
Website: ambercoop.ca
Projects built or contracts awarded: 25
Contact: Jamie Kent, Executive Director & President
Phone: (519) 852-6067

E-mail: info@ambercoop.ca

Community Energy Development Co-operative
Website: cedco-op.com
Projects built or contracts awarded: 11
Phone: (519) 279-4045

Toll Free: (855) 274-6890

Fax: (519) 279-4631

Email: info@cedco-op.com

Green Energy Nexus 2 Co-operative
Projects built or contracts awarded: TBD
Contact: Glen Schrader
E-mail: glen.schrader@brightraysolar.com

Guelph Renewable Energy Co-operative
Website: guelphsolar.ca
Projects built or contracts awarded: 2 (to be completed August 2015)
Contact: Evan Ferrari, Sustainability Consultant
Phone: (519) 836-8068
Email: evanferrari@hotmail.com

Local Initiative for Future Energy Co-operative
Website: lifecoop.ca
Projects built or contracts awarded: 18
Phone: (866) 889-9155
Email: info@lifecoop.ca

1 http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Blog/ontarios-quiet-energy-revolution-has-lessons-/blog/51036/
2 http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/11/24/2988171/rooftop-solar-cut-peak-demand/
3 Wind energy saves consumers money during the Polar Vortex - available at awea.org
4 Tracking the Energy Revolution: 2014 - available at http://cleanenergycanada.org/works/trackingtherevolution2014