Everyone wins with Community Owned Renewable EnergyWhenever a renewable energy project is planned and implemented in partnership with the local community we create a significant win / win situation.
Increasingly Renewable Energy Co-ops are seen to enter into partnerships with developers of renewable energy projects and members of the respective community, a model that makes environmental and economic sense.
The local economy wins because with community ownership the likelihood for local contractors to be included in the competitive process during the construction and maintenance phase of the project significantly increase. Infrastructure work, excavation, construction, electrical connection and equipment rental are more likely to be awarded to contractors that are located in the community because their work practices and reliability are known by the community.
The environment wins when a community chooses renewable energy over the alternative of fossil fuel burning energy production. It is significantly easier for a community to make that choice when the community owns the project in partnership with the developer. For example Woodstock Hydro has been successfully leading the energy conservation effort which was and continues to be only possible with the support of all members of the Oxford County Community and that same community spirit can put Oxford County on the map as a model for environmental change. Community ownership in the energy production from Wind, Solar, and Bio fuels can support the County in this effort.
The Renewable Energy Project Developer wins because they receive first hand feedback from the local community about the community’s needs, its concerns, and solution suggestions on how to address those needs. The information flow is fast tracked in both directions and many misunderstandings can be either avoided altogether or addressed quickly.
Most importantly the Community wins when its members can attain ownership in these renewable energy projects. Owners educate themselves about the product they consider investing in. A broader knowledge about the environmental impact of centralized conventional energy production and a shared understanding of the opportunity to curb these negative impacts with the implementation of renewable energy projects is an important first step. Owners monitor the development of their investment and ensure that the community interest is maintained and concerns are addressed. The partnership of member-owned Renewable Energy Cooperatives in these projects ensures that the community’s interests are represented throughout the project’s life. Co-operatives successfully negotiate with the developer to provide support to small scale community initiatives such as playgrounds or nature trails in the project areas to support their partnership attitude.