Getting to implementation
March 10, 2021
An effective community energy plan will have engaged a broad cross-section of the community in its development. The simple reason why is that successful implementation rests on the buy-in and contributions of the community - public sector, private sector, civil society and individuals.
Maintaining momentum after the initial planning process can be challenging. Communities quickly learn that they don’t lack for energy technologies to choose from or even a solid business case. The primary barrier to transforming local energy systems is the existing energy system. The existing system and the people that work within it prefer conventional modes of energy generation and distribution. They work very well within prevailing regulatory systems, utility business models, and energy markets.
The solution to the barrier of the status quo is collaboration but how do you grow and sustain it?
Some communities are starting to experiment with social innovations that are designed to institutionalize collaborations to catalyze and coordinate the implementation of community energy plans. Sometimes referred to as “intermediary” organizations, they do not deliver energy services or products. Rather, they work between the organizations that do. They serve as a backbone for collaboration across government, community organizations, businesses, and the public.
In Ontario, examples can be found in Brampton, Oakville and Waterloo. Others are close to launching. All have been mandated to accelerate the energy transition in their community through the implementation of their community energy plans.
- Waterloo Region Community Energy (unincorporated network)
- Future Energy Oakville (incorporated as a non-profit)
Brampton Centre for Community Energy Transformation (incorporated as a non-profit)
The value of intermediaries is better known in other sectors but if we are serious about addressing climate change we need to find ways to financially support the role of intermediary organizations in the energy sector that have been given the mandate to ensure community energy plans get implemented.