Last Monday night, the second instalment of Guelph: 100% Renewable Energy landed at the Guelph Youth Music Centre.
Esteemed guest speaker and Renewable Energy Leader from Oxford County, Jay Heaman, took the stage to discuss his community’s commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2050. He began by introducing Oxford’s Community Sustainability Plan, a motion that was unanimously voted into effect by the county’s municipality. The plan outlines a merging of Economic, Community and Environmental action teams that work in unison to improve the sustainability of future Oxford. Big plans for social housing projects, and net zero homes have come out of the passing of this motion, Heaman explained.
Jay ended his talk by highlighting Rhein-Hunsruck, a district in Germany, as an inspiration for 100% Renewable Cities. The district has predicted that by the end of 2017, their share of renewable electricity produced will be 298% of their total power consumption!
eMERGE executive director, Evan Ferrari, came with an encouraging message, confronting the monumental change that is transitioning to 100% renewable energy. “Guelph has done this before” Evan stated, regarding the city’s success in waste management and water conservation.
Not only has Guelph made monumental changes, so has Ontario as a whole; recall Ontario’s coal phaseout in 2014. Evan explained; the success of these changes, that were once regarded as “monumental” show the very real potential of Guelph achieving 100% renewable energy. The importance of building solar infrastructure as well as conserving and improving the efficiency of energy use in Guelph was also discussed as critical to reaching 2050 targets.
What can we learn from Oxford County? Quite a lot it seems.
From the facilitated breakout sessions, came great insight as to what Guelph’s next steps are. The first crucial steps identified; building greater community knowledge and participation in renewable energy initiative. Economic growth and understanding the financial benefit of renewables was next on the agenda. Addressing the conflicts and differing views on transitioning to renewables was another step established, where urging municipal government to take action was strongly recommended by all in attendance.
“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel” Ferrari concluded. “Communities like Oxford help make our job easier – now it’s time to get on with it.”
The Community Engaged Scholarship Institute of the University of Guelph and eMERGE hosted the event with the assistance of the Guelph Youth Music Centre.