January 29, 2007

Co-operative fund provides $50K in grants to support wind energy development

To back up its commitment to environmentally-friendly alternative energy sources to counter the impacts of climate change, the Co-operators group of companies has awarded grants totalling $50,000 to three Ontario-based wind energy organizations. All three wind energy enterprises are co-operatives as well. The grants come through the Co-operators' Co-operative Development Fund.

The fund is providing $10,000 to the Toronto Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC), the not-for-profit energy co-operative that erected the first urban wind turbine in North America. The grant will support education, outreach and volunteer development for TREC, ensuring that the organization will continue to serve as a model energy co-op for the sector.

The second recipient is the Countryside Energy Co-operative (CEC), in southwestern Ontario. The CEC is developing North America's first community-owned wind co-operative. The Co-operators grant of $20,000 in support of project management and technical assessments - crucial to further developing the initiative - makes CEC eligible for matching funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Another $20,000 grant, to the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA), will help the organization maintain momentum as a major force within the energy sector as it adds another staff member to its roster. OSEA supports 21 member organizations, 17 of which are recognized renewable energy co-operatives, and plays an indispensable role in co-ordinating the movement's efforts.

"Our group of companies is focused on increasing the profile of renewable energy as a positive vehicle for moving forward with environmental sustainability," said Co-operators president and CEO Kathy Bardswick. "By supporting a number of organizations dedicated to the same goal, The Co-operators is working to develop the capacity and infrastructure of this emerging sector," she added.

Based in Guelph, Ontario, The Co-operators provides a wide range of insurance and investment products, as well as property development. It is owned by 34 Canadian co-operatives, credit unions and like-minded organizations, and has assets of more than $6.5 billion. Since its inception, The Co-operators Co-operative Development Fund has invested more than $1 million in emerging and expanding Canadian co-operatives.

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