The Community Energy Coop (CEC) had been like a newborn baby: small and needing a lot of nurturing, but with the promise of growing into something bigger, more resilient and independent. Just like a child, this has taken time. The CEC didn’t really see a lot of action in its infancy–it spent a while crawling before it could find its own feet. Enter 2011 and the CEC is like a young child, walking and talking and running around getting into all kinds of stuff.
What originally prompted Wayne Groszko to get involved in the formation of the CEC with fellow community members was the possibility of creating a community-owned renewable energy source. A wind farm was envisioned in Carleton County. The government of New Brunswick had put forth legislation for the NB Community Energy Policy which was promising; however the scope of that policy was not conducive to the CEC’s involvement. So, the CEC, with 9 founding members on board, got shelved for a number of years.
In 2009, with a revision to the NB community Energy policy, it looked like there might be another shot at making the community-owned wind farm a reality. With the help of Falls Brook Centre’s Greg Leblanc the CEC portfolio got dusted off and some fundraising was done to get the organization off the ground again. With the help of two contract consultants–Kesten Broughton and Jessica Scott–some preliminary networking was done, and a business plan written.
The new business plan outlined a revitalized co-op with an expanded plan that will explore three avenues: domestic renewable energy system consultation and installation, manufacturing small scale wind turbines, and a community-owned energy project.
Between 2009 and 2011 the CEC has begun to realize some baby steps forward. It has expanded its membership base from 9 to 15, while consulting on and installing a handful of renewable energy systems, settling into an office of its own, and hiring its first fulltime employee.
Now that things are on a roll, the CEC is ready to step into the spotlight and connect with the community it wants to serve. It is now offering consultation, installation and maintenance services to individuals and businesses who are interested in a system of their own.
The CEC is also interested in attracting more members. At $500 for a lifetime membership, the benefits include free consultations plus discounts on installations and maintenance calls. A membership also buys a longer-term investment in the development of a relatively small-scale community-owned wind farm in Carleton County. This would mean yearly dividends from the returns on electrical generation.
Membership in a co-operative also comes with the right and duty to become involved in the governance of the organization. This governance happens through direct voting at the Annual General Meeting (one member, one vote) and constant communication with the co-op structure and board of directors throughout the rest of the year.
The CEC is an exciting way to get involved in and become an owner of a vehicle for change toward a renewable energy society right here in New Brunswick. Come and visit us in person at 111 Simms Rd., Knowlesville, NB. Phone: (506) 375-6400, visit us on the web at www.communityenergynb.ca or email: firstname.lastname@example.org