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    Archive for November, 2011

    Community Feed in Tariff Program Spurs Renewable Energy Actions


    “It is true that responding to the climate threat requires strong government action at all levels. But real climate solutions are ones that steer these interventions to systematically disperse and devolve power and control to the community level, whether through community-controlled renewable energy, local organic agriculture or transit systems genuinely accountable to their users.” Naomi Klein


    “System change not climate change” was a compelling cry for the tens of thousands of people who marched in Copenhagen in 2009 protesting the lack of positive actions then taking place by governments at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. (For those who are still skeptical about human induced rising temperatures see from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Study.)


    Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act is meant to bring about a ‘system change’ and lower Ontario’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Canada’s per capita consumption of electricity is one of the highest in the world, and although it has only .5 percent of the world’s population its emissions account for 2 percent of the world’s GHG emissions. We can do much better than this and Ontario’s Feed-in-Tariff program (FIT) allows our community along Georgian Bay to become leaders in taking a real stand for a healthier planet by embracing the FIT’s program for renewable energy.


    I went to Montreal to attend Climate Action Network’s workshops to learn more about the FIT program and other initiatives that take action on climate change. Ontario’s program is one of the best in the world. FIT allows our community to have locally led renewable energy programs that we can be in control of and therefore are designed to be the right fit for this community.


    Community power is what this is all about in an age where it is essential to drastically lower our dependence on non-renewable sources of energy. Recently it was announced by the International Energy Agency that world GHG emissions rose in 2010 by 6 percent over 2009. This is at least double the rise in emissions previously recorded. Whether it is biomass, biogas, landfill gas, on-shore wind, solar photovoltaic or water power, the FIT program guarantees a pricing structure for renewable electricity production. The price is set for the different kinds of renewable energy and reflects the projects’ installation costs as well. The prices paid are meant to give a reasonable return on investment to individuals or community groups. Please see (We all wish to find a definitive comparison of costs for all types of energy production but this is not easy to do. A good example is to read the nuclear industry’s take on their costs which they say is much lower than other types of energy and then research the rebuttal of that industry’s claims on costs.)


    How can our area get started? Here is an example. A Waterloo/Wellington community (Local Initiative for Future Energy or L.I.F.E) decided to engage its citizens in a positive and planet supporting action. They applied for a grant to kick start two renewable initiatives: wind power and bio-gas.  LIFE invites members to share in the profits (6 percent return is forecast) of the ventures and become involved in community energy ownership through the co-op. The Co-op received $160,000 to be used to fund the development and regulatory approvals phases from the Community Energy Partnerships Program  ( The money helped set up the St Agatha Wind Project that will give electricity to over 400 homes. The one turbine is capable of producing 2 mega watts of power.  See


    There are many excellent reasons why our Georgian Bay communities should embrace the FIT programs that are geared for large projects and very small ones (micro FIT) that a group such as Georgian Triangle Transition might want to pursue. The program brings a host of local innovations, manufacturing and entrepreneurial skills to partner with various projects that could link many groups and provide essential resiliency to our community’s energy independence and to our economy. Yes, there are challenges that must be overcome such as the waiting time imposed on new ventures.  Grid capacity can be a frustrating experience if it’s a long wait to be hooked up to the provincial electric grid.  Financing even one wind turbine can cost millions of dollars but there are new possibilities opening to normalize investments by creating green energy bonds and being able to make RRSP contributions towards renewable energy community actions.