The Co-operators gets behind sustainable energy

GUELPH, ON, Feb. 8 – The Co-operators is committed to the fight against climate change — and promoting the use of environmentally-friendly alternative sources of energy is a key battleground. With this in mind, the group of companies is making major overtures to sustainable energy operations. Recently, The Co-operators announced grants totalling $50,000 to three Ontario-based wind energy organizations, co-operatives all.

The Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) is a not-for-profit energy co-operative that erected the first urban wind turbine in North America. The Co-operators’ second grant of $10,000 — dedicated to supporting education, outreach, and volunteer development for TREC — ensures the organization is going strong and will continue to serve as a model energy co-op for the sector.

Located in southwestern Ontario, the Countryside Energy Co-operative (CEC) is developing the first community-owned wind co-operative in North America. The Co-operators’ grant of $20,000 in support of project management and technical assessments — crucial to further developing the initiative — makes CEC eligible for matching funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) supports 21 member organizations, 17 of which are recognized renewable energy co-operatives. OSEA plays an indispensable role in co-ordinating the movement’s efforts, and The Co-operators’ grant of $20,000 will help it maintain momentum as a major force within the energy sector as it adds another staff member to its roster.

The Co-operators president and CEO, Kathy Bardswick, explains: “Our group of companies is focused on increasing the profile of renewable energy as a positive vehicle for moving forward with environmental sustainability. By supporting a number of organizations dedicated to the same goal, The Co-operators is working to develop the capacity and infrastructure of this emerging sector.”

Deborah Doncaster, OSEA’s executive director, comments on the importance of The Co-operators’ support for energy co-ops. “The renewable energy sector needs to have a strong and durable infrastructure in place; somewhere it can turn to for support, direction, and collective representation. OSEA’s main contribution to the renewable energy movement will be to provide that cornerstone.” She concludes, “The Co-operators support for our sector speaks both to its vision as a corporate citizen and its belief that communities — supported by local co-operatives — ought to play a decisive role in ensuring their own environmental security.”

As a leading Canadian co-operative, The Co-operators is proud of the progress Canadian co-operatives are making as they play a leading role in the nation’s energy transformation. As the Canadian public becomes increasingly aware of the co-op sector’s potential for addressing key societal concerns, the leading co-operative is confident that its partners in the co-op sector will be called upon to play a major role in service delivery and environmental protection.

Since its inception, The Co-operators Co-operative Development Fund has invested more than $1 million in emerging and expanding Canadian co-operatives.

About The Co-operators:

Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies offering home, auto, life, group, commercial, and farm insurance, as well as investment products and property development. With assets of more than $6.5 billion, The Co-operators is owned by 34 Canadian co-operatives, credit unions, and like-minded organizations.