Our Story

Our First Decade: 2012-2022
2011 - Like most cooperatives, CPN had modest beginnings.
A group of concerned Northumberland residents who shared a common interest in climate change and sustainability issues got together at a renewable energy workshop in Cobourg. The workshop was co-sponsored by Go Green Together and the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association. Four of the workshop attendees, aware that local environmental groups were struggling financially and that government cutbacks for environmental groups were more and more common, met a few days later and asked themselves three fundamental questions:

  1. Is there sufficient community support to set up a renewable energy co-operative in Northumberland?
  2. Could a renewable energy co-operative have the potential to generate on-going funding for local environmental groups?
  3. Do the skill sets exist to set up a solar-based renewable energy co-operative?
2012 - In January 2012 the call went out...
Two-dozen people showed up, interested in contributing to a the creation of the co-op. Very quickly an Association was formed to explore more fully answers to our questions. Spirited discussion ensued and by early summer a consensus emerged around three founding principles:

  • COMMUNITY POWER: An organization formed by community, for the community that conceives, develops and finances renewable energy projects – projects controlled, in part or in full, by local residents/members
  • COMMUNITY POWER CO-OPERATIVE: To be not just any organization, but one that was democratically owned and controlled by its members for their mutual benefit
  • NON-PROFIT: To embody the ideals of a social enterprise with a mandate to return the operating surplus to the community, as determined by its membership.
2013 - It was time to get to work!
CPN was incorporated under the Co-operative Corporations Act as a non-profit, renewable energy co-operative with a vision, mission and mandate based on these principles. Over the next two years a combination of membership fees, federal and provincial start-up grants, and over $100,000 from member loans and development partner funds were used to set up the co-operative and secure approval for three Feed-In-Tariff rooftop solar contracts from the Ontario Power Authority. The co-operative expanded from its nineteen founding members to eighty-nine members by January 2015 and both construction financing and long term financing was secured from Solarize Energy, a Bradford solar developer.
2014-2017 - Solar projects feeding the grid
The installation of the three solar rooftop projects at a cost of $3.8 million began in the fall of 2014 and were successfully connected to the grid in March 2015 In 2017 CPN built its fourth project the Keeler Centre in Colborne. It was designed to hold 952 solar panels and produce 325 kilowatt hours of clean electricity, enough to power 40 homes. The cost of the project is $496,000 and was entirely funded by CPN through the generous contributions of 13 member loans as well as cash reserves from CPN’s first project.
2017-2019 - Changes to renewable energy space
In 2017 the provincial government announced that the FIT program would be cancelled after the FIT 5 projects were completed. In June 2018 the newly elected Ford Government cancelled CPN’s two FIT5 contracts. Later that year in November 2018 Solarize Energy, CPN’s business partner, informed CPN that they were going in to sell their 40% equity in the SE7 Partnership to Potentia Renewables ignoring CPN’s legal Right of First Offer to purchase these shares. On May 31, 2019, Potentia Renewables purchased Solarize Energy LP’s 40% share in our Partnership.
2021 - Re-thinking the business plan
The end result of these developments was a decision by the Board and Members to shift our focus from the operations and administrative side of renewable energy to how best to use the cooperative’s financial assets to support our goal of supporting the community. These assets were secured by the sale of the Keeler Centre project to SolarShare, a provincial non-profit cooperative and by negotiating and finalizing an Alternate Arrangement Agreement (AAA) with Potentia Renewables Inc.
2022 and beyond - The power of community
Where do we go from here? The Board is hard at work on the vision for our co-op's future. Stay tuned for news in 2022 about how we will harness community power to continue contributing to a sustainable future in Northumberland...

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