What is Community Power?
Community power refers to renewable energy projects developed, owned, and controlled, in full or in part, by residents of Ontario.
The growth of the community power sector across Ontario represents a fundamental shift away from the conventional energy system characterized by centralized planning, polluting supply resources and corporate ownership.
Key characteristics of community power include:
- Renewable energy sources
- Financing in whole or in part by Ontario residents
- Decision-making participation by local citizens and/or members
- Local community engagement concerning the project and related energy issues
- Community economic development in the form of local jobs and investment
The following groups qualify as community power proponents according to various jurisdictions internationally:
- Investor members of co-operatives that have a local, regional, or province-wide base
- Non-profit entities, such as community centers, places of worship, housing co-ops, etc.
- First Nations communities
- Local distribution companies (LDCs) and their directly owned affiliates
- Private venture groups of individual landowners with an interest in local property in the surrounding community where the project is taking place and who are not in the primary business of energy generation
- Farmers or residents with a property interest in the local municipality and who are not in the primary business of energy generation
In Ontario, the government includes co-operatives, Aboriginal groups and municipalities in its definition of community power.
Benefits of Community Power
Communities seldom reap the full financial benefits of conventional or commercially-owned renewable energy projects in their backyards. Communities that develop their own renewable energy projects, however, can create a stable revenue source, generate clean energy and foster community leadership.
The development of community-owned renewable energy offers many benefits:
- building stronger communities through citizen participation in planning and project ownership;
- reducing social friction around new energy development;
- stimulating economic development through local job creation;
- fostering environmental awareness and action; and
- creating healthier local environments by producing cleaner energy.
A study by the Pembina Institute examined job creation in the community power sector in Ontario.