Guelph & London: Communities Showing Leadership in Renewable Energy

Municipalities have long paved the way for climate change action and have shown leadership in renewable energy, even before larger governmental bodies – like provincial or federal governments, have taken action. Partners for Climate Protection, a program under the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, works with nearly 65% of Canada’s population and has been committed to reducing greenhouse gases since 1994.

Below are a few Ontario municipalities who have made strides in renewable energy:

Guelph

In 2007, the city of Guelph published its ‘Community Energy Plan’. One of the top priorities was to incorporate as many renewable energy sources as feasible. Within 15 years, the city aims to source at least 25% of its energy demand from locally generated renewable resources. It was suggested that the equivalent of ‘1000 roofs’ of solar photovoltaic electricity be installed within the city and heat energy could partially be sourced form biomass burning. Despite a surge in population between 2006-2012, emissions in the city dropped by 17% and energy use was 25% lower, compared to 2006 standards.

London

Following the success of London’s 2013 Community Energy and Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the city outlined next steps for 2014-2018 in its ‘Community Energy Action Plan‘. Local renewable energy incentives, local energy purchasing, and general implementation and use of renewable energy were a few of the top mandates in the Action Plan. Specific goals in terms of local energy production include an increase the local production of electricity from 1.4% (in 2012) to 5% of London’s total annual electricity demand by 2018 and an increase the local capacity for renewable electricity generation from 2.7 MW (in 2012) to 10 MW by 2018. Community awareness on renewable energy was also given priority in the city’s action plan. The Thames Region Ecological Association has run a wide variety of local campaigns including renewable energy workshops for the last 30 years and the city foresees many more initiatives to come.

Cities like Guelph and London prove that reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be done at a local level. As community leaders, implementing renewable energy initiatives gives them importance in the public eye and can inspire citizens to take individual action as well.

Header photo of London, ON courtesy of Western Engineering.

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