I took the opportunity to attend a seminar in Barrie sponsored by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) to promote the concept of building cooperatively owned and operated renewable energy projects. It was well attended and what we heard is that the cost of solar electric has been dropping significantly over the past few years. Enough to make community-based and community-owned renewable energy projects that much more feasible. The session provided a guide about how interested community partners – residents, neighbours, association members – can form a coop that could invest in, and receive a steady revenue from, a local renewable energy project. An energy cooperative might even own and operate multiple generating installations.
By choosing the right partners, the benefits can extend beyond simple investment revenue. A church, arena, community hall or day-care centre could be the host for a roof-top solar installation and earn revenue to offset operating costs. There are other possibilities too – perhaps a school, library or firehall might be a suitable site. A commercial building could offset energy costs for its tenants.
With interest rates at record lows and bank GICs offering a fraction of a percent, investing in a community coop offering a reasonable and reliable 20 year return on a tangible, local sustainable energy resource seems like a sensible option.
There are many organizational and technical details to work out before any project could take shape. But the first step is to bring together enough visionary community members bold enough to say, “Let’s do it!” Are you one of them? Innisfil in Transition is an organization that would like to be a catalyst for such a project. Right now, the group consists of a small band of local residents (including me) but we’d like to hear from more people who would be willing to support a cooperative energy venture in Innisfil. That includes anyone associated with a potential installation site. Interested? Curious? Want to hear more? If so, contact Innisfil in Transition directly by clicking on their web site or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.