Our Power - Driving Ontario's Solar Energy Revolution! (Finalist)
If you are interested in becoming a green energy innovator or would like to simply reduce your home's carbon footprint, then Our Power is the tool for you!
We walk you through your initial steps to making a positive impact on climate change by conducting an assessment of your property's solar potential and connecting you to a reliable installation company in your area.
Our Power enables residential solar energy installations, simplifies your solar decision, and connects industry partners to homeowners.
Using resources derived from years of renewable energy project development, Our Power provides Ontario homeowners with real world experience and real time data.
- Within our first three years:
o 110 systems installed and feeding the grid
o $2 million of business channeled to Ontario’s leading solar providers
- We work as an active community partner in:
o Neighbourhoods across Toronto: West Toronto, Downtown Toronto, the Beach, Thornhill, Riverdale and East York
o Communities around Ontario: Guelph, Waterloo, Halton Region, Mississauga, Northumberland County and the o Mennonite Solar Initiative Providing real time production data available on the internets
- We have an in-depth knowledge of the solar industry in Ontario
- We were responsible for 31% of residential systems installed under the Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (2007-2009) in Ontario
- We were actively involved in developing the new Ontario Feed-in-Tariff Program in 2009
- We possess the largest Canadian database of homeowner solar enthusiasts
- We provide on-line and in-person solar education, information and tools for decision making support
Our Power is your source of uniquely independent and credible solar information. We have an in-depth knowledge of the solar industry in Ontario
Our Power is a project developed by TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative www.trec.on.ca
Ontario’s renewable energy landscape is only expanding. The Green Energy Act and North America’s first Feed-In Tariffs are here to stay. Everyone in Ontario now has the opportunity to become a renewable energy generator and to make a profit doing so. At Our Power we envisage a world in which installing a renewable energy system on residences, farms and small businesses becomes the norm, and the decision is economically obvious and the process is clear and hassel-free. To that end we are providing homeowners in Ontario with the resources, guidance and support necessary to drive massive change in the residential renewable energy market. Given the opportunities provided by the solar rooftop feed-in tariff (FIT), our main focus today is the solar photovoltaic (PV) market.
As leaders in Ontario’s solar energy market over the last few years, Our Power is uniquely positioned to connect key market players to drive massive change in solar energy uptake in this province. With our well known internal expertise and resources, proven community education and buying process and comprehensive website, we are already connected to a constituency of thousands of homeowners interested in participating in the solar revolution. Already the Our Power Community Solar Program has resulted in the installation of more than 100 solar PV systems generating over $2 million of business for leading Ontario solar companies.
To maximize participation Our Power has developed a business model that would see the installation of 1800 KW (1.8MW) of solar energy in Toronto over the next two years with the view to doubling our results every 3 years thereafter.
The Challenge – And The Solution
Despite the presence of various groups and initiatives relating to Solar, actual solar uptake has fallen well short of expectations. The industry is embryonic, immature and facing growth challenges as well as eventual transformation and consolidation. Providers are inconsistent in their capabilities, quality and reliability. For most homeowners, they are unaware of the viability of Solar and / or see the purchase decision as daunting, high cost and / or having an uncertain return. The current state of the industry demands improved management and facilitation of the pending explosion in solar power at the homeowner level. While the market conditions are rapidly becoming more favourable, the uptake of solar at the pace and scale envisaged demands a concerted marketing effort that will ‘inform and motivate’ homeowners and others about solar as a viable energy source for Ontario. It also demands an organization with capabilities to efficiently convert interest into final purchase. The Our Power business plan addresses the need for a consolidated effort that works for all constituents including home-owners and their communities, system providers and installers, supportive corporations and all complementary agencies and groups. Individually, none have the resources to ignite massive change at the homeowner decision-making level and through the actual purchasing process. However, working collectively, as a centralized “HUB” coordinated by Our Power, we will provide these resources leading to a significant increase in solar uptake in the residential sector and the healthy growth of the solar industry.
How the Model Will Work
Our Power’s success in driving such massive change will also fuel its financial self- sufficiency and its momentum into the future. Members and Partners will pay appropriately to join the HUB and access our unique offerings. In doing so, they support the solar industries’ growth, and benefit directly from doing so. The heart of the financial model is based on success: Our Power will receive a “Vendor Contribution”, like a commission, on sales that Partners make to our Members. The cost to join will be meaningful, yet modest to ensure widespread participation from the start. In fact, in the spirit to encourage action and success, the model allows for fees to be rebated to Partners and homeowners as purchases are made. Our Power does require continued funding in the short term in order to launch and build the HUB and until it is in a position to repay the funding out of surpluses if necessary.
Our Power will become the “HUB” of homeowner solar energy growth in the GTA, Ontario and potentially Canada. Our Power will engage its stakeholders in a manner that meets their individual demands, those of the “collective” and the industry as a whole. The HUB will be literally that: a compelling meeting place and business exchange for homeowners, their communities and the industry providers looking for access to their marketplace.
Our Power is acknowledged to be the “incumbent” for this role by key stakeholders in the industry and is respected for its role in solar development for several reasons: Our Power’s not-for-profit status gives it a recognized neutrality that allows it to operate in the best interest of ALL stakeholders; the unique and active role of Our Power at all stages of solar development to date, from community education through to vendor communications, through the process of homeowner purchase. Our research efforts have helped to shape the model and confirm the interest by the likely participants.
For emissions reduction metrics see: Image Table 3
Our Power is a voluntary organization that supports communities in the exploration and purchase of solar energy systems (hot water and photovoltaics) for residential application. Our Power provides resources, support and information to community groups based on the growing body of experience and expertise developed through the range of community solar initiatives undertaken by affiliated groups. Examples of such groups include the Riverdale Initiative for Solar Energy (RISE) and the West Toronto Initiative for Solar Energy (WISE). Groups active in Our Power have been responsible for the installation of 71 PV systems of 112 KW of installed capacity and 76 Solar Hot Water systems in Toronto in the last 3 years.
Our Power hosts websites for its affiliated organizations -- Ourpower.ca -- and has developed an extensive, detailed set of resources documenting the community buying group model which it makes available to assist groups to develop their own solar initiatives. Our Power also provides email and phone consulting, if required, with community leaders as they develop their projects.
Our Power will target and deliver services to Members via Community Groups, their events and activities and their Group Buying / RFP Process, and / or directly to the Homeowners.
The foundation of Our Power efforts to date has been our support of community efforts to educate homeowner homeowners and equip them to make Solar purchases. This effort has also been a primary source for building the homeowner database of those interested in Solar Solutions, and / or “leads” in the parlance of the Vendors.
- Annual Community Solar Our Power Fee: $150. For providing a specific web site presence (under the Our Power brand) creating events and meetings, roundtables and distribute information.
- Per RFP Fee: $250. For managing the RFP and all of the issues that result and support that is required in running and awarding the RFP.
- Vendors will pay an RFP participation fee for the opportunity to gain exposure to a large number of homeowners and, of course to secure a major project
- All homeowners participating in the RFP must also be Our Power Members
Homeowners, our priority stakeholder group, may access information on the web or at Community Groups, free of charge. They will be exposed to Our Power through: our website, advertising by Our Power or one of our partners, referrals from other members, attending a community session or buying group initiative, referrals from a Partner LDC or Vendor, other Solar groups or organizations, or from a sponsoring Corporate Partner.
As homeowners become serious about purchasing, they will have the option of becoming an Our Power Member, where our we to support them and provide access to additional value – added membership tools such as:
- Vendor Listings, Ratings, Testimonials
- Purchasing tools such as advice on getting quotes and document templates
- Participate in the Member Referral Program: a referral incentive funded out of the “Vendor Contribution” from the sale. No net revenue impact is budgeted.
- Annual / Lifetime Membership Fee: $20.
Provider/ Vendor Partnerships
The Partnership promise is to source, educate, filter, convert and deliver prospective homeowner customers in a neutral, professional and cost effective manner. Providers / Vendors need our help in accomplishing their marketing, sales and revenue objectives.
We will secure Provider / Vendor Partners by a combination of “outreach” efforts set out in the Marketing Plan. As we gain momentum and profile, new Partners will seek us out based on the recognized value that we bring. This value will result from these benefits:
- Our Power Approved Partner accreditation and inclusion in all listings. Subject to annual validation process.
- Included in our Vendor Ratings and Vendor Testimonials area on the web
- Homeowner leads and tracking of their purchase interest and activity
- Access to community buying Group RFP’s
- Access to additional Advertising and Event Sponsorship
- Association with other Our Power Partner Programs: LDCs and Corporate
The Vendor Contribution Fee is earned by Our Power when sales occur by a Partner to a Homeowner Member, regardless of our role, if any at all.
- Annual Partnership Fee. Large Company: $2500. Small Company: $1000 Discounted by 50% in 2 years. Can be further rebated / offset against the Vendor Contribution
- Vendor Contribution Agreement: $25cents per Watt to Our Power.
- RFP Participation Fee: $250
Based upon these scenarios, Our Power is fully confident in our ability to introduce unique and valuable services to the homeowner and vendor communities, accomplish financial self sufficiency and be in a position to repay all, or an appropriate portion of the funding it requires.