Thursday, April 4, 2013

OTTAWA — Solar panels installed on the roof of Lafontaine Housing Co-operative in Gloucester were connected to the province’s electricity grid yesterday afternoon, and through Ontario’s Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program, the price paid for the power generated will directly benefit local investors in the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op (OREC), a local co-operatively run business that aims to put more renewable energy on the grid while turning a profit for investors.

“We really liked the idea of renewable energy and wanted to do our part by putting solar panels on our roof, but the project was cost prohibitive for us to do on our own,” explained Mary-Ann Schwering, past-president of Lafontaine Housing Co-operative. “This way, we can still support the project by leasing the space, and members of OREC will benefit as well as the environment. It’s a win-win situation for both co-ops.”

The solar project at Lafontaine is just one in a series, as OREC has already connected two other projects on housing co-ops in town, with more projects on the way.

“This project is our third of five 10 kilowatt projects, but we also have a much larger project in the west end that we plan to unveil shortly,” explained Joan Haysom of OREC’s board of directors. “We’ve also applied to the Ontario Power Authority for a number of new project licenses under the next round of FIT program applications, and should hear back in early June, at which point we’d open up our second shareholder offering.”

OREC’s first shareholder offering, which was open for just under three months last fall, garnered nearly $1 million of investment from local Ottawa residents.

“We think this speaks to how many people want to support the conversion to a more green and sustainable economy,” said Haysom. “It also shows that you can be good to the environment and your bank account at the same time.”

The panels at Lafontaine are expected to produce 1 kW every 6 minutes on a sunny day, and 10 kilowatts of energy per hour of sunshine, the same amount of electricity currently generated by the projects at Eileen Tallman Housing Co-op and Better Living Housing Co-op. Ottawa generally sees 1200 hours of sunshine over the course of a year, so each 10kW project generates an estimated 12 000 kWh/year— enough to power 1-2 single family homes.

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Photos of the project available upon request.

For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Celeste Côté, comms [AT] ottawarenewableenergycoop [DOT] ca, 613-240-3838 (cell)

Janice Ashworth, janice.ashworth [AT] ottawarenewableenergycoop [DOT] ca, 613-748-3001 x.240 (office), 613-296-8232 (cell)