Beach Community Energy Co-op: Inspiring a Greener Generation

By: Princie Reza (York Sustainable Enterprise Consultants)

Beach Community Energy Co-op (BCEC) was the winner of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association’s (OSEA) 2017 Powering Prosperity Awards for ‘Community Developer of the Year’.  BCEC is a renewable energy cooperative working towards a sustainable future in which our energy needs are met through solar energy. The co-op is composed of community members, neighbours, and parents of Kew Beach Junior Public School. They have also participated in OSEA’s Green Energy Doors Open in 2016, celebrating their work in community cooperation.

BCEC ensures that the decision-making power remains in the hands of the community. Organizations, like BCEC, choosing the cooperative structure are driven by value-based decision-making that prioritizes the well-being of people and planet alongside profit. BCEC’s vision of empowering communities is achieved through generating community engagement. They strive to teach by example, undertaking and successfully implementing renewable energy projects through which they strengthen their relationship with the Toronto District School Board. BCEC also encourages people to divest from unsustainable carbon stock and provides communities with the opportunity to invest in renewable projects located in Toronto’s east end.

In September of 2016, through the FIT 3.0 contract BCEC was awarded, they collaborated with Bullfrog Power to launch a renewable energy project. They built a community owned solar installation on the rooftop of Kew Beach Junior Public School. It is a 72kW installation, which alongside the school’s solar panels generates approximately one third of the school’s annual electricity needs and lowering greenhouse gas emissions. This project is a feat in collaboration, community engagement, and cooperation! The investment is profitable and the funds generated are to be reinvested back into the Toronto District School Board to encourage the facilitation of other impactful green initiatives. Working with the school board to install solar panels on rooftops of schools is an amazing way to raise awareness amongst the younger generation regarding the impacts of climate change and the importance of good decision-making. This project reminds the students and community that they have the power to drive change.

BCEC, through projects such as this one, helps to advance the goal of economic democracy. One aspect of economic democracy is having the power to control where we invest to influence what the future of the community looks like. BCEC makes this possible by creating a platform for community-based investment to achieve a green energy future. Essentially, it returns power in the hands of the local community. The success secured by the solar panel project initiated by BCEC illustrates that a green energy future through community-based investment is possible!

Check out their website to follow along with the amazing work they are doing at: www.beachenergy.ca


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