The Co-op Caucus focuses on innovations in renewable energy

Apr 30, 2015
The All Party Cuacus on Co-operatives

The All Party Caucus on Co-operatives met for the eighth time on  April 23. The meeting focused on cooperatives working in the field of renewable energy and climate change adaptation.

Hélène Leblanc presided over this meeting during which four co-operatives had the opportunity to give an overview of their activities and the challenges they face. Mr. Bertrand Fouss, Strategic Director of Coop Carbon, Mr. James Law, Director of TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative, Mr. Yuill Herbert, Director of Sustainability Solutions Group and Mr. John Kilpatrick and Deanna Leaman, respectively vice-president and member of EnerGreen Builders Co-op made presentations.

Mr. Fouss explained that Coop Carbon resulted from a joint effort of four organisations: the Mouvement Desjardins, the Coop Fédérée, the Centre of Excellence for Energy Efficiency and the Association québécoise pour la maîtrise de l'Energie. Coop Carbon offers members a chance to benefit from the opportunities emerging in the carbon market while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Working closely with distributors of fuel, they help them to comply with regulations by creating projects for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and then offer rebates in the form of carbon credits.

Mr. Law spoke of the Community Power of TREC projects. These are energy production projects controlled by the community that TREC develops on their behalf. This way the community benefits from dividends at three different levels: social, economic and environmental. Mr. Law said that legislation and incentives put in place in Ontario give them the opportunity to develop projects of this kind. He cited the tariff program and the fact that these contracts are reserved for co-ops and communities. On the other hand, he also stressed the difficulty of accessing capital and the instability of the program as difficulties they face. Mr. Law also indicated that SolarShare, a TREC project, is the most important solar co-op in Canada.

Mr. Herbert described Sustainability Solutions Group as a leader in sustainability consulting services. The company participated in the introduction of the LEED (Leadership in energy and design) concepts in Canada and collaborates with dozens of cities across the country to help them develop plans and strategies for community engagement. SSG has developed a model for future development for inner-cities that could allow communities reduce GHG emissions by 26% and provide a path to future reductions of between 50% and 80%.

EnerGreen is a worker co-operative with ten member-owners that specializes in the design and construction of passive Solar houses, as well as energy-efficient redevelopments. Mr. Kilpatrick and Ms. Leaman explained that building techniques and technologies provide up to 50% of the heating needs. According to them, educating property owners on the benefits of passive solar is a key mission for EnerGreen as there is a lack of public information on this subject. They suggested that establishing a long-term incentive for new construction and existing homes would result in lowering carbon emissions and therefore result climate change mitigation.

The discussions that followed the presentations centred on the theme of incentive programs and their costs. All the speakers agreed that the federal Government should make a greater effort to engage in partnerships with co-ops and create better conditions for the development of such beneficial projects.