Dick Bakker – OREC

Posted By Omar Carcelen

Dick Bakker

OREC was created five years ago. Dick provided an overview of how energy is distributed today – centralized with one provider and a transmission network that provides energy. Ontario is one of the most centralized power grids in the world along with Belgium and France. The future will see energy fed into a central grid with many sources of power fed from the grid similar to countries such as Germany an Denmark. Renewable energy fits into the latter.

OREC currently deals with only solar power. The advantage of solar power is that it is provided during the day, which matches peak demand in Ontario. It is clean, stable and local thus reducing transmission losses. Ottawa is the 2 nd best place in Canada to produce solar power. A cooler climate is better for solar power. The cost of solar panel production has dropped exponentially over the past 30 years (about 80%) so that it is now sustainable. Until 2007, chips used in solar panels were waste products from the telecomm industry but now they are produce specifically for solar power. The cost is expected to continue to drop.

Ownership of renewable energy is greatest in Germany where 62% is owned by industry and private owners. OREC models this. Some of their objectives are to:

  • Generate decentralized renewable energy
  • Create democratic, self-reliant co-op
  • Provide fair return on investment

OREC was incorporated in 2010 and currently has 498 Eastern Ontario residents who have paid $100 for a lifetime membership. The members can also invest in the installation of solar power and receive a return on investment. There are 13 sites totalling 13MW of energy. They have to work with landowners and owners to find sites that are a ‘grid-friendly’ location. Every project feeds into the grid (sells power) which may be consumed locally or by others.

People join to be a co-owner, to make Ottawa more sustainable, to invest in the future. OREC has a co-operative business model, one member, one vote. Co-ops facilitate social shift by engaging many people. They provide a vehicle to use investment portfolio as a tool for change.

Question – Will you consider wind? Answer – Not at the moment. It is very capital intensive and you need to get local support. The existing rate structure does not encourage small technology.

There are potential advances but the technology needs to advance beyond the research sector to be considered.

He showed several projects where OREC has solar infrastructure installed such as a barn in Dunrobin, Ecole Franco-Ouest, Hovey Industries, etc.

Question – Do individual panels breakdown? Answer – Panels degenerate but the system as a whole has about 30-50 year life. The panels are improving in productivity about 6%/year.

Question – What rate do you get per kW? Answer – A 10kW system is paid about 36cents/kWhr.

OREC oversees construction and management & systems connection to Hydro One, and also signs power purchase agreements with local utilities. Preferred shares in OREC are eligible for TSFA and RRSP accounts.

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