In light of the growing urgency for, and national commitment to a de‐carbonised economy combined with the need for local economic drivers and community resiliency, community energy offers a win‐win‐win solution.
Community energy (CE), which broadly refers to community ownership of and participation in renewable energy projects, is considered an economically positive and (increasingly) a socially necessary approach to the low carbon economy. CE projects are developed under various ownership models (or legal structures) such as: renewable energy co‐ops; by Aboriginal communities and corporations; through local investment funds; not‐for‐profit organizations; and the MUSH sector (Municipalities, Universities, Schools and Hospitals). What is common to CE is the retention of project control and benefit (especially financial) at the community level.
On assignment to Co‐ops and Mutuals Canada (CMC), TREC Renewable Energy Co‐op and the People, Power, Planet Partnership, undertook an assessment of the status of renewable energy co‐ops across Canada. While the reporting on status is specific to the co‐op model, the comments made in this report about development challenges and recommended solutions applies broadly, but in varying ways, to other forms of community energy models named above.
1.1 What is Renewable Energy (RE)?
1.2 What is Community Energy?
1.3 What is a Renewable Energy (RE) Co‑op?
1.4 RE co‑ops’ Triple Bottom Line Impact
1.4.1 Economic Outcomes
1.4.2 Social Outcomes
1.4.3 Environmental Outcomes
1.5 Prevalence of RE co‑ops in Europe
2. RE CO-OP ACTIVITY ACROSS CANADA
2.1 Types of Co‑operatives in the RE Sector
2.2 RE Generation Co‑operatives
2.3 Ontario’s experience with RE co‑ops
2.3.1 Ontario’s RE co‑op policy framework
2.3.2 The State of Things Today
2.3.3 Challenges and Opportunities
3. EFFECTIVE TOOLS FOR SUCCESSFUL RE CO-OP DEVELOPMENT
3.1 Accessing the Market and Electricity Grid 19
3.1.1 Feed‑in Tariffs
3.1.2 Community Ownership Set Asides
3.1.3 Community Ownership Mandates for Commercial Projects
3.2 Capacity Building and Start‑up Support
3.2.1 Project Development Grants
3.2.2 Revolving Funds
3.2.3 Supportive securities legislation for co‑operatives
3.2.4 Reduced security payments
3.3 Accessing Project Financing
3.3.1 Community Investment Funds
3.3.2 State‑Insured Loans
3.3.3 Scaling the Project Right
4. CONCLUSION AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
4.1 Recommendations for Provincial Policy Makers
4.2 Recommendations for Federal Policy Makers
APPENDIX A: LIST OF RE SECTOR CO‑OPERATIVES IN CANADA
APPENDIX B: RENEWABLE ENERGY CO‑OPERATIVES IN ONTARIO: 2014 SURVEY FINDINGS