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Community power: Go small or go home

Community power and renewable energy were the major themes of the Community Finance Power Forum, held today at the MaRS Discovery District today Toronto. The 1-day event—sponsored by MaRS, GEAA and D&D Securities—presented a diverse group of speakers that included community power project developers, funders and policy makers, who provided attendees with valuable information on how to take advantage of Ontario’s Green Energy Act and Feed in Tariff regime.


May 11, 2010
By John Gilson

The Community Finance Power Forum, which lasted from 8AM to 3:45PM, was divided into three major segments: 1) Community Power – European Perspectives; 2) Community Power – Ontario Perspectives; and 3) Capital Finance for Community Power. Following each segment, speakers and attendees were given plenty of time to drink coffee and network.

The European Perspectives segment was moderated by Ben Chin, Vice President of Communication for Ontario Power Authority. Noted speakers of this segment included Erik Christiansen, Managing Director of Denmark’s Middelgrunden, an offshore wind power project, and Dr. Ingo Koenig, Managing Partner, Koenig and Consultants.

Jaret Henhoeffer was one of the more energetic speakers during the Ontario Perspectives segment. His central message to attendees: “Rather than going big, let’s go small.” Henhoeffer is the founder of Penguin Power, a company that primarily helps “rural residents—mostly farmers and co-ops—produce decentralized, locally owned renewable power generation.”

Other speakers during the Ontario Perspectives segment included Jeff Mole of Bala Energy who spoke out against the risks of privatization of public resources, and Mike Brigham, project leader of the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-Operative (TREC) SolarShare Project.

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Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, was the featured speaker of the Community Finance Power Forum. The primary audience of the power forum was the community power sector, including municipalities and community groups, and the funding institutions that support the community energy sector.