Building Community Power CO-OPperatively: A Renewable Energy Summit

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Federation to Solve Ontario’s Green Energy Struggle

Federation of Community Power Co-operatives (FCPC)  to solve Ontario’s green energy struggle
From the press release
Despite the best intentions, Ontario’s Feed-In tariff (FIT) program has resulted in contentious debates over energy in then province.  Community participation in projects was suggested as a solution but community power proponents have had limited success to date. A new Federation of Community Power Co-operatives intends to change all that under new FIT rules anticipated any day. By unifying the co-op sector under one umbrella and sharing resources, the Federation expects to support at least 100 MW of community-controlled projects by 2015.  

Debates over land-use, energy prices and the impact of renewable energy have been a challenge for Ontario’s Green Energy Act and Feed-in-Tariff program. With these struggles at the forefront of green energy news, an innovation developed by Ontario citizens to engage more communities in renewable energy - the community power co-operative - has been overshadowed despite its increasing popularity.  

“The FIT program has been controversial because people don’t feel they’re taking part in the current energy transition,” says Deb Doncaster, head of the Community Power Fund.  “Co-ops are attractive because every community can now have a direct economic stake in local projects, and thus in the program as a whole.” 

Under the new rules of the Feed-in Tariff Program (“FIT 2.0”), community power co-operatives and aboriginal power projects are acknowledged as key to gaining wider support for green energy in Ontario. However, co-operatives have had limited success to date given the intense competition for FIT contracts and grid capacity in the province. 

FIT 2.0 prioritises community projects through a “points” system and “set-aside” of 10% capacity for renewable energy projects that are majority owned by co-ops and aboriginal communities. 

A new umbrella organisation has been formed – the Federation of Community Power Co-operatives (FCPC) – to facilitate co-op led project development at the highest possible standards by sharing collective experiences, expertise, knowledge and tested development tools and resources. 

By forming a Federation, community power co-ops will have a common voice to negotiate with government and private developers. Co-ops will also work together and share their resources, tools and knowledge to help the sector meet its community power set-aside. 

“In forming the Federation of Community Power Co-operatives, the sector is practicing one of its core principles, co-operation among co-operatives – a fitting development in this, the International Year of Co-operatives” says Peter Cameron of the Ontario Co-operative Association. The goal is to work collectively towards maximising the set-aside allocation, creating efficiencies and best practices and in the long run, putting community power on the map in a way we have seen in places like Denmark and Germany where citizens own up to 50% of all renewable energy generation. 

Judith Lipp, Chair of the FCPC, says the Federation is eager to help other co-ops and proponents of renewable power, and encourages them to join the conversation. “Community power has a great future if we work together to make it happen,” she adds. 

Media contacts:

Judith Lipp, Chair of FCPC, / 647 701 6032

Friday, 27 July 2012

Capacity Building Tools and Workshops at TREC

TREC's capacity-building templates, tools and workshops are designed for groups who have the internal capacity to self-organise, self-educate and move forward with their projects. TREC’s capacity building services help groups overcome very common, but challenging barriers and reduce the typical legal and consultant costs incurred in getting your co-op and project started. This includes templates for leases, legal agreements, business plans and financial models. TREC also offers workshops run by one of our staff to help you use our templates to their full potential.
Check it out:


Friday, 20 July 2012

Final microFIT Program Rules, Contract and other program documents have now been posted on the microFIT website.

A key change from the draft to the final version of the microFIT Rules is on the timelines for the microFIT process. Applicants will be required to seek an Offer to Connect from their local distribution company (LDC) within 30 days of the OPA confirming that their application is complete.  This will be followed by a 90-day period during which the applicant must receive an Offer to Connect. This change is to provide sufficient time for LDCs to process Offer to Connect requests from microFIT applicants.
The window for microFIT applications is now open.  Existing microFIT applicants (those who applied on or after September 1, 2011) will be subject to the revised microFIT Program Rules and pricing and need to resubmit their applications by August 10, 2012. If they do so, they will maintain their original timestamp, and their application will be processed in the order in which they were originally received. New microFIT applicants will need to be patient, as their applications will not be processed until after all resubmitted applications from existing applicants have been processed. 

Say NO to stalling wind power progress

Say NO to stalling wind power progress

Wind power has been lived with for decades in Europe and the USA. This is your chance to keep the development of the clean energy we need to begin to address global warming and rebuild our manufacturing economy.
There is currently a poll on CBC on whether a moratorium should be imposed while the Health Canada study is completed. If you can take the time to respond to the poll, please do so. Also, please pass along this information to others.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Renewable Energy Article in the

Laidlaw Memorial United Church, was among the first in Ontario to sell electricity generated by rooftop solar panels
Think of it as a chance to buy shares in the sun.
A Hamilton group is seeking residents interested in joining the city's first renewable energy co-operative.
The goal is to pool enough cash to install a 55-kilowatt solar project — enough to power four or five homes — on one or more rooftops above the city.
“Lots of people like the idea of solar panels … but not a lot of people can afford to do it on their own,” said Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko, project co-ordinator for the Hamilton Halton Energy Awareness Team. “This is a chance to make green power accessible for the community.”
The upfront cost of the project could range between $275,000 and $300,000, she said. Solar panels vary in size and efficiency, but Ekoko said early research suggests the project might need more than 200 panels, each as tall as a person. Co-op organizers are still calculating the “minimum investment” needed to join the co-op, but Ekoko said a successful effort probably requires 200 members.
So far, the group has around 50 people who have expressed interest in taking part. All co-op members would share in decision-making as well as any profits, Ekoko said.
“We think we can make money from it, but it's primarily attractive for people who want to make a personal investment in a sustainable future,” she said.
Ekoko said organizers estimate they can pay back the capital cost over eight years — provided the province keeps paying top dollar for electricity from small green projects through the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program.
A revamped FIT program, which provides cash incentives for renewable energy projects such as solar, wind and hydro power, is scheduled to be launched by the Ontario Power Authority later this year with extra priority placed on community projects, said spokesperson Tim Butters. Under draft rates published online by the OPA, rooftop projects like Hamilton's would earn nearly 55 cents per kilowatt-hour by feeding the provincial power grid.
“We do really depend on the FIT program to make a venture like this possible,” said Ekoko, who estimates the project could produce $34,000 worth of power every year.
Organizers hope to nail down a large, structurally sound south-facing host rooftop in time to apply for an anticipated round of new FIT contracts.
The local group grew out of a partnership between Environment Hamilton and the Halton Environmental Network.
A similar effort dubbed Bright Sky Power is also heating up in Burlington, while several Hamilton-area churches are already reaping the benefits of a sunnier outlook on life, including projects at Laidlaw United, Central Presbyterian and Melrose United.
905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Some things you should know

 FIT 2.0 Released with Minister Directive
OSEA is pleased to provide its members with the following:

Top Ten things our members should know about the FIT 2.0 directive

  1. The microFIT rules/contract and application window will be available on the OPAs website this week – as early as tomorrow;
  2. The application window for small FIT will open at the same time as the rules/contract are posted. The OPA is committed to completing this task before the end of the month;
  3. Greater clarity provided on the prioritization of contract capacity set-aside for projects with greater than or equal to 50% community or aboriginal equity participation. OPA shall prioritize within any FIT window these projects over any other applications that obtain prioritization points;
  4. Definition of community from April 5th remains unchanged and the focus remains on co-operatives and First Nations;
  5. Further clarity on project readiness as well as points awarded for projects that applied on or before July 4, 2011 or on or after July 5, 2011;
  6. Directive introduces a “cure period” for FIT contracts that default on priority points awarded;
  7. CEPP to allocate $1,000,000 for education and marketing;
  8. Greater flexibility provided for ground-mount PV in protecting agricultural lands.
  9. Working Group to be established for project siting concerns; and
  10. Set-aside established as part of a pilot project for rooftop solar projects on un-constructed buildings.
These are highlights from the directive. OSEA will provide a more detailed overview of the FIT 2.0 when the final rules are released towards the end of July as committed by the Minister.

We will work in your interests to ensure that this commitment is met.

the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association

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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Britain's supply of green energy soars

Britain is being powered by record levels of green energy, after a surprise increase in electricity generated from wind, sun and waves. Renewables accounted for 11 per cent of the UK's electricity in the first three months of 2012, compared with 7.7 per cent from January to March 2011.
There were big rises in power from onshore wind farms, while generation from hydroelectric and bioenergy plants also rose sharply, putting Britain much closer to meeting its legally binding commitment to get 15 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. The increases could also go some way to solving the looming energy crisis, as decades-old nuclear, coal and gas power stations are taken out of service.
The latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that gas accounted for 27 per cent of electricity generated in the first quarter of 2012, its lowest level in the past 14 years. High gas prices were blamed. Coal accounted for 42 per cent, up by a fifth, while nuclear fell from 19 to 17 per cent.
Onshore and offshore wind generation was up by around 50 per cent year-on-year. Hydroelectricity output was 43 per cent higher between January and March 2012 than a year earlier, and thermal renewables rose by 20 per cent. Solar, wave and tidal grew by more than 800 per cent, but remain the smallest renewables sector with most technologies still in their infancy.
Gordon Edge, of the trade body RenewableUK, claimed the figures were proof that "green growth is beginning to take hold". Read more here.