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.