What is Community Power?
OSEA sees Community Power being defined as: a class of sustainable energy projects that are owned, developed and controlled in full or in part (50 per cent or more) by residents of the community in which the project is located.
Under the OSEA definition, Community Power proponents include local residents, farmer collaboratives, co-operatives, First Nations, municipalities and other institutions working to develop local sustainable energy projects. Anyone can become an individual member. To qualify as a Voting or Associate Member please see OSEA's Membership Criteria.
Ownership models vary within OSEA as does the percentage of local ownership. In some cases, OSEA's members have joint ventures with other members, municipalities or utilities. Members' projects that retain 50 per cent control and equity still qualify as Community Power projects regardless of who the partner is and therefore have access to the Community Power Fund.
Where did Community Power originate?
OSEA's inspiration for the development of the Community Power sector in Ontario stems from German and Danish experiences. In Germany for example, farmers interested in owning local energy projects often incorporate as limited liability for-profit corporations that adhere explicitly to co-operative principles. Other projects like the 40 MW Middelgrunden Offshore Wind Cooperative also provided inspiration.
Ontario's Community Power sector is extremely diverse with structures ranging from solely owned LLPs and co-operatives to partnerships involving co-operatives, First Nations, private sector developers, municipalities, Local Distribution Companies, educational institutions, bulk purchasing groups and more.
According to the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in conventional energy systems, like that of Ontario, at least 75 cents of each energy dollar leaves the local economy.
Community sustainable energy developments provide an excellent opportunity to help keep energy dollars in the community, create economic development, empower residents, cut pollution and green house gases and address energy security concerns. According to the Iowa Policy Project (click to download a PDF), locally owned renewable energy project generates 5-10 times the local economic benefits than do conventional ownership models. From a solely economic perspective every dollar invested by local community members results in a 3 times multiplier within the community.
For more information about Community Power, visit the OSEA website.