Community Power is clean, renewable energy, developed, owned and controlled by local people. They include farmers installing solar (PV) on existing farm buildings or individual ground-mount developments in an effort to supplement their farm income and help sustain the family farm. Community Power has many benefits. Local economics are bolstered by additional revenue, new jobs are created and new manufacturing developed.

Community Power promotes production of electricity closer to where the electricity is consumed, reducing the need to build costly transmission lines. It all began with the 2009 launch of the Green Energy and Green Economy Act and the associated Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Program administered by the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). The FIT Program provides rates for the sale of local produced electricity that make the investment very attractive for the farming community to do it for themselves in order to retain the benefits.

Because farmers own the lands, farmers should be able to position themselves to participate in the incentives being offered to develop renewable energy on their properties and to do better economically than merely receiving lease payments for the use of their lands from large conventional energy corporations.

Studies undertaken in Iowa showed that locally owned wind generation creates up to 10 times more economic activity in the local community and state than does wind gen- eration owned by out-of-state companies. When the owners are local, they are more likely to purchase more local materials for construction and hire more local residents and profits stay in the community too.

“The lease payments made to farmers by commercial project developers typically pale in comparison to the income the farmer could earn if he instead owned the project himself or in conjunction with other members of his local community.”

The community partnership model is viewed as an excellent vehicle to share the rewards as well as the risks of developing sustainable energy sources in the area to the benefit of all the residents of the community. In the partnership, each member provides what it is best positioned to provide to the project often at a lower overall cost because of shared resources that are already in place.

Projects involving local partnership and ownership can also provide significant community and economic benefits in the way of job opportunities and by simulating local investment. Viable family farms are the foundation to sustainable rural communities.

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