The following are examples of recent SWITCH successes and initiatives.
SWITCH's Submission to the OPA Regarding the Proposed microFIT Changes
SWITCH submitted a document to the Ontario Power Authority's FIT team expressing our concerns about recent announcements made regarding the changes to ground mount solar rate decrease.
One-to-One Meeting with the Community Energy Partnerships Program
Representatives from the Community Energy Partnerships Program (CEPP) were available for the July 9th, 2010, open meeting for one on one presentations to community power groups and individuals in the Kingston region.
Information session by SWITCH member Hearthmakers Energy Cooperative
On March 9th , 2010, the SWITCH member Hearthmakers Energy Cooperative, held an information session on federal and provincial grants available to homeowners to help offset the cost of retrofitting their home to reduce energy consumption.
A series of business presentations
SWITCH has offered a series of business presentations on “How your rooftop can make you money: The new Green Energy Act and your business” from January to March 2010 at several locations. Launched on October 1st, 2009, the new Green Energy Act will enable Ontario businesses to unlock their rooftop asset and earn revenue by generating solar energy and feeding it back into the grid. There are also incentives for your business to become part of the quickly growing renewable energy market by diversifying your products or processes.
Seminar on permit requirements for solar panels
Del Stowe and Rachel Quittkat from the City of Kingston Building department gave a seminar on permit requirements for solar panels, February 10th, 2010 at Innovation Park.
Legalities for installers
Tony Fleming, from Cunningham Swan, discussed legalities for installers, February 24th, 2010, Innovation Park.
SWITCH Board member Ian Rowberry, offered "Sustainability 101", a small group workshop that introduced participants to the basic fundamental scientific principles that underpin the Natural Step's framework for sustainability. The aim of these facilitated discussions were to develop a common understanding of what "big picture" sustainability means and enable participants to start thinking about their own situations with regard to sustainability principles.
Letters to Premier McGuinty, Ministers Gerretsen and Smitherman
In May 2009, SWITCH wrote letters to Premier McGuinty, Ministers Gerretsen and Smitherman, and the OPA about certain concerns that SWITCH's business members had about the implementation of the Ontario Green Energy Act. Ted Hsu, SWITCH Executive Director, spoke to Dalton McGuinty and an aide of George Smitherman about the matter when he was at the Liberal Party of Canada convention in Vancouver.
Renewable Energy generation by municipalities
In 2008, SWITCH decided to write letters to Ontario Environment minister John Gerretsen, Research and Innovation minister John Wilkinson, Energy Minister Gerry Phillips, and Energy and Infrastructure minister, George Smitherman asking them to amend the Electricity Act, 1998 and allow municipalities to generate small scale renewable electricity without setting up an independent corporation. This administrative requirement was creating an unnecessary barrier to renewable energy in the province of Ontario. In the 2009 Green Energy and Green Economy Act, the Electricity Act was indeed amended to allow municipalities to generate up to 10 MW of renewable energy. When opportunities arise, medium sized and small municipalities will now be able to profit from, or reduce their exposure to energy prices by, generating renewable energy.
City of Kingston Official Plan Comments
In February 2009, SWITCH members got together and submitted comments on the City of Kingston draft Official Plan, specifically directed at Section 6 on the use of land for renewable energy. We tried to make a clear case against unnecessary impediments to the adoption of renewable energy in the City of Kingston.
Green Energy Act Consultation
In February 2009, SWITCH organized a consulation session between SWITCH members and representatives of the Green Energy Act Alliance regarding the legislation now known as Bill 150, the Green Energy Act. SWITCH members provided oral and written input to those who will be monitoring the legislative process. SWITCH also hosted a public information session on the Green Energy Act.
Austrian Biomass Boiler Technology Meeting
As a result of contacts made through SWITCH, Queen's Innovation Park hosted, on Sept. 19th, 2008, a meeting between an Austrian trade/Canadian Embassy in Vienna delegation, Eastern Ontario Forestry, City of Kingston, Queen's University, and Utilities Kingston representatives as well as other experts. The topics of discussion were issues related to a wood-fired co-generation facility at Queen's Innovation Park.
SWITCH Energy Conservation & Renewable Energy Fair
The SWITCH Energy Conservation & Renewable Energy Fair was held on March 13th 2008, from 7-9 pm at the new K-Rock Centre in downtown Kingston. 23 exhibitors set up displays whose subjects included wind power generation, solar energy research, drain water heat recovery, fuel cells, home energy conservation, energy efficient light rail, bio-energy, training for careers in sustainable energy, insulating concrete forms, straw bale homes, solar hot water installation, and wood pellet stoves. The Fair also included a tour of the LEED Silver design features of the K-Rock Centre. Attendance exceeded expectations with an official count of 598 visitors. Funding for the Fair came from a grant from the Ontario Ministry of Energy's Community Conservation Initiative. The Fair was organized in cooperation with Arcturus SMG Canada, the manager of the Centre, and the City of Kingston.
Click here to download the list of exhibitors.
Energy House at St. Lawrence College
Energy House is a matched pair of buildings that are an integral part of the Energy Systems Engineering Technician Technologist Program at St .Lawrence College in Kingston, Ontario, as well as being a public and local school board education centre for Alternative and Renewable Energy technologies. The idea for "Energy House" was created at a SWITCH meeting. SWITCH members helped St. Lawrence College find staff and funding for this facility, which opened in 2006 and is considered a world class alternative energy demonstration project and training centre for alternative energy technologists and technicians.
Energy House makes Alternative and Renewable Energy commercial technologies and demonstration concepts accessible to everyone in the Kingston area -- particularly students. Energy House focuses on commercialized alternative and renewable energy products that individuals can use today in their homes and in their work such as solar air and water heating, heat pumps, photovoltaic systems, and energy efficiency in construction and in appliance usage.
UPDATE Feb. 2008: SWITCH members, St. Lawrence College, and Lone Wolf Construction, have collaborated on the building of a straw bale wall as part of the Insulation Demonstration Project next to Energy House. They met at a SWITCH open meeting.
Working with Local Government
SWITCH has been involved in increasing dialogue with the City of Kingston and its municipal affiliates over the past year. A meeting between SWITCH members and Glen Laubenstein, the City CAO, was initiated to help build bridges between the two organizations, allow SWITCH to offer technical and business planning support to the City on alternative energy related issues, and for SWITCH members to learn how they can most effectively advocate for local alternative energy solutions to our municipal government.
To help the City reach its goal of LEED Silver certification with the Large Venue Entertainment Centre (LVEC), SWITCH met with Don Gedge, the project manager, to discuss the implementation of energy efficiency and alternative energy measures in the downtown facility. It was agreed that SWITCH would help Mr. Gedge and his project team (Ellis Don and Mechanical Contractor TMP) set up meetings with local experts to explore possibilities.
Networking, Collaborations, Brokering of Partnerships & Other Initiatives
SWITCH helps its members find expert technical advice, skilled human resources, funding partners, project collaborators, and like minded individuals or organizations. SWITCH members include some of Canada's premier researchers and entrepreneurs in the alternative energy field. It is the job of SWITCH's staff to help our members network effectively within the sector. The following testimonials speak to the power of SWITCH's network:
Being involved in SWITCH has enabled CPE Division "L" to make good contacts with like-minded companies and individuals who are involved in promoting the use of renewable energy. During the monthly public forums, we learn of new technologies. In addition, CPE can gain knowledge of local projects, which would require alternative energy and the support of the organization to participate in them. We find our involvement in SWITCH to be a valuable asset to our organization.
Kincore Holdings Limited is a real estate development company committed to sustainable design and construction. The efforts to educate ourselves and keep apprised of the latest technology, partners in sustainable design, LEED construction and many other aspects is considerable. We see our membership with SWITCH as an important source of information and contacts within the community and look forward to our ongoing involvement with them.
It was great meeting you ... the (SWITCH) group seems super keen and always ready to help out anybody with a like mind, which was incredibly encouraging to see, especially as a new grad ... working with CEEC this year, my exposure to all of the initiatives and new opportunities in environmental technology has gotten me excited for chances to get involved in something new! I was very impressed and excited to get exposure to the initiatives in which SWITCH is involved; it was very inspiring to see the pro-action that SWITCH has taken in the community's sustainable initiative. Everyone at the meeting was very kind and inviting and I look forward to attending future meetings.