Advancing Sustainable Energy in Ontario: The Case of Regional Renewable Energy Cooperatives

CIGI Paper No. 133

June 21, 2017

Renewable energy cooperatives have been instrumental in expanding electricity generated from renewable sources in Ontario. By developing solar, wind and bioenergy renewable energy projects (REPs), renewable energy cooperatives contribute to supporting the Government of Ontario’s multifaceted approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Additionally, renewable energy cooperatives have delivered benefits to the communities within which they operate or situate their REPs. These benefits include providing opportunities to diversify financial investments, promoting social cohesion in some communities and increasing the level of awareness on environmental issues such as climate change. Furthermore, local energy production supports the local economy and prevents the outflow of financial capital in order to purchase energy from sources outside the region. Some of the challenges renewable energy cooperatives face include difficulty in raising capital to finance their REPs and, in some cases, obtaining Registered Retirement Savings Plan eligibility on their bonds. Despite these challenges, renewable energy cooperatives have been largely successful in contributing their quota through REPs to actualize the Government of Ontario’s plans for sustainable energy in the province.

About the Authors

Chijioke Oji is a post-doctoral fellow at the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development at the University of Waterloo. His current research focuses on developing innovative financing models for small and medium-scale renewable energy projects to alleviate the energy access challenge in developing countries and foster decentralized renewable energy production in developed and emerging economies.

Olaf Weber is a CIGI senior fellow and an expert on sustainability and the banking sector. He is currently a professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development at the University of Waterloo and a University of Waterloo Research Chair in Sustainable Finance.