There are a growing number of community power co-operatives right here in Ontario and all across Canada. Community Power Northumberland (CPN) started out like so many others – with a group of concerned citizens who were passionate about a cleaner, more sustainable energy future. Here’s our story…
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.
One thing leads to another…
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:
- Is there sufficient community support to set up a renewable energy co-operative in Northumberland?
- Could a renewable energy co-operative have the potential to generate on-going funding for local environmental groups?
- Do the skill sets exist to set up a solar-based renewable energy co-operative?
A Few Days Later…
And the answer is…
A resounding…maybe. So in January 2012 the call went out to see who in the community was interested. Two-dozen people showed up and 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.
And the rest is history…
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. The installation of the three solar rooftop projects at a cost of $3.8 million began in the fall of 2014.
Sept 2012 – Feb 2015
Plugged in and feeding the grid
Three commercial rooftop solar projects were successfully connected to the grid.
What to read next:
Mission & Vision
CPN has crafted both a Mission and a Vision that guide all of its organizational decisions. Read More
Our board members have a wide range of experience in the private and public sectors, with expertise drawn from many fields. Read More
The governance structure of the Co operative is set out in CPN’s By-Laws and is guided by the seven Co-operative Principles. Read More
CPN has had the good fortune of benefiting from a number of partners. Read More