This is guest post from Evan Ferrari, Executive Director of eMERGE Guelph, one of Transition Guelph’s wonderful partner organizations. If you have more questions about the CEI and how you can help, please get in touch with me at kelly@transitionguelph.org.

Photo from http://guelph.ca/

Photo from http://guelph.ca/

What’s the best thing you can do on Earth Day?

Support the CEI (Community Energy Initiative) – creating a local economy that puts more people to work by reducing the pollution causing climate change.

On Monday April 25 the city will make a decision on the fate of whether to update the CEI. Rarely do we get a chance to have a profound impact on the future of our city’s economy – and at the same time – improve our environment. Add your voice to update the CEI and accelerate the work to create a post-carbon economy.

The CEI provides all of us with the opportunity to transform our local economy for the better. An economy that will focus on putting our neighbours and families to work by investing in:

  • using less energy,
  • using energy more wisely
  • and producing more clean energy alternatives locally.

It’s about creating more energy security within our city.

By getting this right we can keep more of the half a $ billion dollars a year in energy costs that leaves the city — right here. We can do this by putting more people to work locally. And at the same time we would be creating a healthier place for our children to grow and prosper. Now nine years old, the initiative has some challenges. But an update will focus us toward a cleaner and more prosperous path forward. The Guelph CEI has been a catalyst for municipalities across the country to take charge of their own local economy.

Some of the local benefits that have come from the CEI include:

  1. Guelph generates 50% more peak electricity locally than similar Ontario communities. We’ve done this through solar photo-voltaic, combined heat and power and by harnessing methane from the former Eastview landfill site. This amounts to 10’s of millions of dollars of local capital investment – at a minimum. And millions of dollars, every year, staying in the city from the electricity that’s been generated. Those generating systems are owned by local businesses, co-ops, institutions, places of worship and individual homeowners. We are 50% above average because of the CEI.
  2. And then there’s a new project where Reids Heritage Homes wants to work with their competitors to build an entire community of highly efficient Net-Zero homes that will be 3 times more energy efficient than the current building code. They don’t want to build a single ‘demonstration home’ but an entire community. They have been very clear that they want to do this in Guelph because of the CEI.
  3. Another downtown property -about to be renovated – is considering making their building “District Energy Ready” They’re considering this because of the CEI.
  4. Then there’s the Canadian Solar plant that employs 500 people. Canadian Solar has 10,000 employees worldwide. Their revenue in 2014: $2.96 Billion US (more than $3 Billion CAD). In 2015 they ranked second worldwide in solar panel shipments. And they chose to make Guelph their worldwide headquarters because of the CEI.

At eMERGE we’re very encouraged that the CEI report is recommending a full public update. It proposes a community driven Initiative that re-engages businesses, institutions and of course all citizens of Guelph to make this a robust a plan. We encourage you to let city council know how you feel about updating the CEI in order to move towards a diversified economy that makes our community healthier and more prosperous.