The Story of GRECo
The current board and membership of Guelph Renewable Energy Co-Op (GRECo) stands on the shoulders of more than a decade of voluntary efforts to promote renewable energy in Guelph.
GRECo was started in 2006 by a group of citizens who were committed to bringing solar power to Guelph. Under the leadership of Mark Bailey, GRASP (Guelph Residents Advocating for Solar Power) was originally conceived as a solar power advocacy and bulk-buy collaborative.
In 2007 GRASP became “Guelph Solar.” Andrew Lambden built a 3 kW demonstration solar tracker on the TerraView property. A volunteer steering committee was confirmed. It included Mark Bailey and Scott Snider as co-chairs; George Bailak, Richard Chaloner, Mark Colvin, Evan Ferrari, Pierre Fogal, Susan Healey, Bill Hulet, David Kupp, Adrian Renzetti, and Joe Weston.
Guelph Solar Co-op sub-committees wrestled with the best technical solar solutions for the Guelph climate at the best price, and began to cultivate municipal, community and corporate partnerships, with an eye to grant applications.
2007-2008: Guelph Solar held public meetings to test homeowner interest in bulk purchase and installation of solar PV equipment. Hundreds of Guelph area homeowners participated. However, even with the advantage of bulk-buy pricing, many experienced some sticker shock. A few private arrays were purchased and installed.
The Co-op began to explore new models for community-owned renewable energy. Guelph Solar was awarded a Community Energy Partnerships Program (CEPP) Grant for its first project assessment at Ignatius Jesuit Centre.
Given four years of learning, the Co-op reviewed and refined its identity in 2011 and formalized our current Vision & Mission. GRECo's values are built from the history of the co-operative movement, based on our belief in self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of our founders, co-operative members affirmed the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
In July 2011, Guelph Solar secured a Co-operative Development Initiative (CDI) Grant and incorporated legally as non-profit co-operative. Guelph Solar’s first Feed in Tariff (FIT) application was submitted in August, 2011.
In 2012, the Co-op recruited memberships from property owners across Guelph and Wellington-Guelph municipalities; We subsequently submitted Feed in Tariff (FIT) applications for Airpark, Silvercreek and other sites. In 2013 Guelph Solar Community Co-op was awarded contracts for the Airpark and Silvercreek sites in the FIT 2.1 application process, with two different partnership arrangements.
As of 2017, Guelph Solar has evolved to become the Guelph Renewable Energy Co-Op (GRECo) you see before you today. We look forward to continuing to serve our members and our communities by providing clean renewable energy and ethical investment opportunities for many years to come.
We are grateful for the unflagging energies volunteered and dedicated to our vision by individuals and organizations over the past ten years. We have learned much from our collaborations and conversations with such entities as:
City of Guelph
St. Joseph's Health Centre
Ignatius Jesuit Centre
Hall’s Pond Co-operative
Guelph Chamber of Commerce
Natural Power Products
GEL-Guelph Environmental Leadership
In addition to the “Original Twelve” — the Guelph Solar steering committee members listed above — we are also indebted to a number of others: Steve Dyck, Randy Whittaker, Glynis Logue, Robert Routledge, Phillip Zacharias, Norm Ragetlie, Ian Miles, and Jacqueline Gauthier. Dorothy Remmer and Russ Christianson were invaluable consultants in the critical days of formation, grant writing and FIT applications.
In the end, much credit must go to our partners at Options for Green Energy, with whom GRECo has walked the renewable energy road for at least a half dozen years. Marc van Beusekom is especially to be thanked.