eMERGE Guelph

100RE Frequently Asked Questions


 How do we get to 100% Renewable Energy?


It’s actually quite simple. We need to:

• Use less energy
• Use the energy we do consume more efficiently (2/3 of all the energy consumed in Canada is wasted)
• Electrify our transportation and heating systems
• Provide renewable sources of energy

What? You still want more details?


Conservation and Efficiency First – negawatts not megawatts

Just putting solar panels on Hummers won’t do the trick. The majority of all energy use in Canada – two thirds or 66% – is wasted. That’s right, wasted. We can actually cut our consumption in half with currently available technology and practices without affecting our lifestyle.  In fact many homes can reduce energy consumption by 20% without even spending money. What’s more, efficiency and conservation are the cheapest source of energy and have the lowest impact on the environment. They also help to ensure the green energy we do produce goes much further.  Think of it as negawatts instead of megawatts.

Resilient local distribution – democratizing energy

Switching away from large generating stations and distant oil fields to local renewable energy will also mean more Guelph ownership. Today, more than $9,000 a year leaves the city in energy costs for every household and amounts to $500 million – half a billion – that doesn’t benefit us.

A more decentralized energy system where everyone from citizens, co-ops, schools, municipalities, and small businesses can become energy producers. We need to strengthen our local power production systems and rely less on a small handful of giant power plants in order to keep the lights on and transportation systems running. Think of it as a de-centralized-mega-project. A more localized system, with opportunities for community-ownership and participation that will increase public support for renewables, and provide more local jobs.  This will increase the number of Guelph citizens, businesses and communities who benefit from generating zero emission energy.

Seizing Opportunities

The cost of renewable energy, electric vehicles, energy storage and smart grid technologies is in rapid decline. Guelph needs to be ready to take advantage of innovation in the clean energy sector to lower our energy bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen system resilience.  The century old electricity business model must change drastically from ‘just’ selling electricity. Instead it will buy, sell, store, and move electricity in a grid that will enable all of us to be part of the energy economy – not just as consumers. We need to be ready and willing to take advantage of these technological changes.

Full Cost Accounting

In the past energy companies have let the rest of us deal with their problems of pollution, climate change and the disruption of communities. This kept the cost artificially low and ultimately passed these expenses (environmental, economic and health) onto us as citizens and consumers. These are what economists call ‘externalities’ – costs that aren’t born by the manufacturer but left to society to deal with. Putting the true price on energy levels the playing field and shows that conservation, efficiency and renewables are much more financially attractive.  Economists call this environmental full cost accounting.

Electrify the Energy system (cutting carbon use)

We need to electrify our entire energy system including heating (no this doesn’t mean electric baseboard heating) and transportation.  We’ve done a great job of getting rid of coal in Ontario. Now it’s time to go after other carbon based energy sources like oil and natural gas.  Of course, natural gas is better than coal or oil based products. But as we get serious about climate change, this is no time to increase our reliance on natural gas. While it might be ‘less bad’ than other fossil fuels, no matter how you slice it, it is a fossil fuel and it contributes to climate change. Renewables don’t. And of course, we need to accelerate alternatives to gas and diesel in transportation.  This means prioritizing: walking, biking, public transit and the switch to an all electric transportation system.

Massive switch to renewables

We must make a massive switch to renewable energy sources.  This will make our energy system more decentralized, resilient to damage and failure and bring in more local jobs.  right here and of course make our city healthier for of families and help in create a more robust and resilient local environment.  And remember, all of this means cleaner air water and land.



  • Why should Guelph commit to 100% renewable energy?

Guelph should commit to 100% renewable energy to build a more resilient local economy, fight climate change, lower our energy bills, empower our community and lead the transition to a new sustainable economy


  • Would Guelph be alone in shifting to 100% renewable energy?

We know this is attainable and we’re not alone in this. Over 1,000 communities around the world have already made this commitment In Canada: Oxford County (including Woodstock). Vancouver, Victoria, Saanich and Nelson BC.


  • But still, aren’t renewables still a far-off energy choice?

No. Financial analysts acknowledge that thanks to rapid innovation in both technology and scaling up of renewable energy efforts, renewable energy technologies have come of age.  Big companies also see where the world is going. Among many others: Ikea, Google, Apple, Budweiser, the Bank of America and General Motors have committed to go 100% renewable. Costs for renewable energy continue to drop.


  • Does Guelph have the renewable resources needed to go 100% renewable?

Yes. But first we have to cut our energy use in half through efficiency and conservation.  In Canada we currently waste 2/3 of all of the energy we consume. Yes 2/3. Our provincial electrical system already supplies 35% of our electricity from renewable sources like hydro, wind and large solar. And in Guelph we are already generating enough renewable electricity to power almost 1,500 homes.   But this is just a start.


  • Why do we need to pledge to go 100% renewable?

By pledging we show local leaders that we’re serious. First we must commit, then we do it


  • Do people in Ontario want to use more green energy?

Absolutely. In a recent opinion poll, 81% of Ontarians said we should continue to develop renewable energy sources.


  • Do people in Guelph want to use more green energy?

Guelph citizens are going renewable at a rate higher than the provincial average. In fact as of 2016, we are at 142% of the provincial average of residential solar systems installed.


  • So what’s preventing Guelph from moving to 100% renewable energy?

There already is some support amongst Guelph’s politicians and electricity planners.  But there needs to be more, much more.


  • How can I help?

Tell city council, community leaders and your friends that you want a 100% renewable future during the current energy plan consultations by making a written submission or participating in a public consultation.


  • Where can I learn more?

Stay informed by joining our newsletter and taking part in our eMERGE 100% renewable energy events


  • Why is eMERGE doing this?

At eMERGE we recognize climate change as the greatest challenge facing the global community. It will present severe impacts for health and wellbeing, environmental sustainability, social welfare and economic vitality – even locally. We must act now


  • Why is Guelph ready:

Over 8,000 have taken part in 100% Renewable events in the last year and we are hearing that Guelph is ripe for an achievable 100% Renewable Energy target.

We found the community mindset on 100%RE is not ‘whether’ we should do it, but ‘how quickly can it be done?’


  • What is a Home Tune-Up?

The eMERGE Home Tune-up is a free one-hour consultation that provides easy-to-use information, resources and practical recommendations to help participants save money by reducing their impact on the environment. By integrating energy and water use with other important sustainability topics, eMERGE is able to deepen and broaden uptake of action in multiple program areas. The in-home consultation is led by a trained eMERGE advisor and is customized to the circumstances of the individual, their home and behaviours. Participants have the opportunity to ask questions and explore measures they can take within their home. The resident is provided with an Action Plan of  measures that can be taken that will reduce energy and water consumption.