by Deron Johnston

The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative was formed in the fall of 2010, one year after the creation of the Green Energy Act in Ontario. They were the third renewable energy co-operative to emerge from that time period in Ontario. Originally OREC was an exclusively Ottawa co-operative, but the members voted to expand into other regions around Ottawa. There was plenty of interest in renewable energy in communities surrounding Ottawa, but no group was able to step forward and get a co-operative of their own off the ground. So OREC decided to expand into areas where there were opportunities and lots of community support.

Energy co-operatives are not a new thing, they’ve been very successful in Europe for years especially in Germany where 50% of their renewable power comes from co-ops and solar farmers. Just like co-operatives in other fields, OREC is 100% owned by its individual members who live across Eastern Ontario. Ideally, OREC likes to work with their members and use their land and buildings to build revenue generating projects that gives other members the opportunity to invest in. This way members get a benefit from leasing their land and another benefit when the project gets built and starts generating revenue.

Recently OREC held two information meetings in the Kemptville area to recruit people to become new members and join the cooperative. Their goal of 50 new members in the area was achieved quickly. This goal was important because it allowed them to increase their chances of being approved for a FIT 5 contract (a contract that is needed to sell the energy created by the project) for three potential solar projects that are currently awaiting green lights in the North Grenville area. These three projects are located just outside of Kemptville, near Oxford Station and just outside of Spencerville. These projects represent the potential for the creation of local jobs and local renewable energy.

OREC recently requested a letter of support from the municipality for the first potential solar project on private land which is just west of Kemptville. The letter of support would mean that their FIT application would have a higher probability of being approved. Acting manager of planning Phil Gerrard recommended to council at the most recent Committee of the Whole meeting that council not sign a letter of support because he felt that the zoning was not correct for this type of project. Janice Ashworth of OREC attended the meeting as well and argued the case for approving the letter of support. That night ,council voted to not give OREC a letter of support also partly because there had not been a public meeting. However, at last week’s council meeting, council voted to defer the final vote on the letter of support to the next council meeting November 14, after a public meeting which had just very recently been arranged to happen in November. If you’re interested in supporting local renewable energy projects, come out to the public meeting on November 14 at 6:30 pm at the North Grenville Municipal Centre. If you’re curious about becoming a member of OREC or would like to learn more about their organization and investment opportunities, please contact their communication associate David Mazur-Goulet at comms.orec@gmail.com or visit their website at www.orec.ca.

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