Kew Beach School in the heart of the Beaches

The solar array on the roof of Kew Beach School, in the heart of the community

The Beach Community Energy Cooperative Inc. (BCEC) is a renewable energy cooperative based in the east end of Toronto.

We promote sustainable living by producing renewable energy that invests in the future of our planet, for ourselves and for our children.

Our mission is to provide our community members with opportunities to channel funds into investments in renewable energy projects located here in the east end of Toronto.

In 2009, a school sustainability subcommittee was formed by the Kew Beach School Council. The parent/staff subcommittee urged the school board to participate in a 2010 competition for a provincial grant for a new school roof, solar panels and other upgrades. Kew Beach won the grant and the first solar panels were installed in 2011.

The next step was to apply for the new feed in tariff (FIT) program to further reduce the green house gas impact of the school (shrink our carbon footprint). This required formalizing the sustainability subcommittee and the Beach Community Energy Cooperative (BCEC) was incorporated in 2012.

We urge you to divest from insecure unsustainable carbon stock.  Invest in your community and receive a healthy return you can depend on. Whereas carbon investment is a danger to the planet, BCEC share income is dependent only on the sun continuing to shine.

The Latest News

AGM Planned for January 2018

All members of the Beach Community Energy Cooperative are welcome to attend and join the discussion, and exercise their right to vote. Exact date and location to be announced.

Among other topics, the proposal for our next project in Owen Sound will be discussed.

Inaugural Meeting of The Glassworks Cooperative

The inaugural meeting of The Glassworks Cooperative, BCEC’s new Zero Emission Development initiative, will be held on Saturday, November 25th, 2017 at St. George’s Parish Hall 1049 4th Avenue East, Owen Sound. The day runs from 11am – 4pm and a light lunch will be served.

All members of the community and the BCEC cooperative are welcome to join us.

Vista of Owen Sound with The Glassworks development circled in red

This beautiful vista of Owen Sound shows the site of the Glassworks Development circled in red.

Visit to New Members in Owen Sound

BCEC Possible New Co-op Project

Wednesday Oct 25 2017 BCEC VP met with three new BCEC co-op members in Owen Sound to discuss renewable energy, a development project and a possible new co-op policy. The group decided to prepare a proposal for the BCEC AGM

Rainbow over Owen Sound and hope for BCEC’s plans for a great future co-op project

On the road with the beauty of the Grey Bruce trees.

Suzuki Foundation Site Visit

We had a great visit with Gideon and Emily from the Suzuki Foundation today. We spent 20 minutes on the Kew Beach School roof and then 15 minutes with the School Principal and an Eco teacher.

Kew Beach has Eco Gold status now and the students are waiting for the connection of the TV screen on the ground floor so that they can see the performance of the roof top solar panels.

BCEC Wins Community Developer of the Year

Ontario Sustainable Energy Association Award for Kew Beach School Solar Project

Ontario Sustainable Energy Association Award for Kew Beach School Solar Project

The Beach Community Energy Co-op (BCEC) was delighted to be announced as the winner of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association’s (OSEA) 2017 Powering Prosperity Awards for ‘Community Developer of the Year’.

This award recognizes the efforts of so many staff, parents, students and community members over the years.

You can read more about why BCEC won the award on the OSEA blog.

David Suzuki Foundation Article About BCEC

The following article was originally published by the David Suzuki Foundation on March 1st, 2017. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author and the Foundation.

“When you do solar arrays, people’s language changes,” says co-op founder

By Gideon Forman

“It was a world speed-record,” jokes Bob Spencer. “They created the array in just 22 days.”

The ‘array’ is a 72 kilowatt solar installation commissioned by a grass-roots energy co-op and mounted atop an elementary school in Toronto’s Beach neighborhood.

Spencer, a founder of the co-op and former school trustee, exudes passion and precision — “It was built between August 11 and September 2, 2016” – when he explains how the project came to be.

Its genesis was a question the Spencers and two other Beach families asked themselves almost a decade ago: “What can we do to connect people, schools and the community to address climate change?” They settled on the idea of turning Kew Beach public school, which their kids attended, into an electricity generator.

Over time Spencer pulled together dozens of like-minded locals and created the Beach Community Energy Co-op (BCEC), which was incorporated in 2012. He believes the organization’s structure as a co-operative has been central to its success and points to a survey conducted by a Kew Beach teacher that found community support for the solar panels at 85 per cent. “There’s something about a co-op,” explains Spencer. “You have to build consensus to move forward. You have to convince a lot of people to agree with you.”

Funding the project wasn’t simple. Bullfrog Power put in $25,000 — “right at the point we were about to give up!” – with half the overall capital coming from crowd sourcing and the other half from a bond offering. Notwithstanding the difficulties, Spencer is proud the money came from local folks. “It proves you can set up a solar array without corporate support. We did it with 150 community members.”

An energy activist since the 1970s, he’s motivated by a desire to move his province away from atomic energy – a direction he sees as wholly viable. “Ontario has 4,000 schools; almost none have solar on them. But parents and communities united can build solar and get us off nuclear. That’s my personal excitement.”

Beyond their wider environmental value, the panels have a host of benefits for the school. Place them on the roof and they start, sometimes subtly, to shift the institution’s culture. “Solar arrays organically build an ecological consciousness among kids, parents and staff,” observes Spencer. He makes the audacious claim that photovoltaics’ presence can alter the very words students use to describe their future. They come to frame it in more sanguine terms. “When you do solar arrays, people’s language changes – so the discourse becomes positive about tomorrow.” The technology isn’t neutral; it has an embedded optimism and, when deployed in educational settings, spurs an ethos of hopefulness.

Spencer’s vision is broad: he wants school-top arrays to serve whole neighborhoods. He suggests the Kew Beach site could provide electricity for nearby condos on Toronto’s Queen Street East. This would raise significant funds for the school board – BCEC pays rent for use of the roof – and help decentralize the province’s power production, making it more resilient.

The desire for Ontario to part company with large, centralized generators – particularly nuclear ones – is never far from Spencer’s mind. Today he sees this possibility as especially close. The economics work and the co-op model suggests a plausible route for the transition.

“Renewables are now just about the same cost as nuclear,” he says with satisfaction. “The tipping point has arrived.”

Gideon Forman is a climate change policy analyst at the David Suzuki Foundation.

Kew Beach School Solar Launch

Ribbon cutting ceremony for Kew Beach School solar project

Community leaders gather to launch the Kew Beach School solar project

Saturday, September 10, — Bullfrog Power,  and Beach Community Energy Co-operative (BCEC) are launching a new solar project on the roof of Kew Beach Junior Public School in Toronto’s The Beach neighbourhood. A launch event will take place from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at the school in conjunction with Green Energy Doors Open, a province-wide showcase of sustainable energy projects organized by the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association.

“BCEC is proud to be working with Bullfrog Power to develop a new renewable energy project that invests in the future of the planet, our community and our children,” said Art Blomme, President, BCEC. “The co-op’s participation in the Kew Beach Junior Public School solar installation makes it possible for residents of The Beach neighbourhood to invest in green energy for our community.”

The project – BCEC’s first – is a community-owned solar rooftop array at Kew Beach Public School. Solar panels mounted on the roof of the school will create a 225-panel, 72 kW installation that, in combination with the school’s existing solar installation, will generate and inject in the local grid the equivalent to one third of the school’s annual electricity use. That electricity will be sold back to the grid with a portion of the funds being used to support green initiatives. These initiatives will include eco-activities within the school and community in order to fulfill its project’s unique educational and service mission.

“The Beach neighbourhood is home to some of Bullfrog Power’s longest-standing and most committed supporters, which is why we are extremely proud to be working with BCEC on this community solar project,” said Ron Seftel, CEO, Bullfrog Power. “Our customers are helping us to change Canada’s energy landscape, one project at a time. To date, we’ve supported dozens of community projects and each is an inspiring example of how individuals can have a real and lasting impact on how our energy is generated.”

Bullfrog Power, through its community renewable projects program, has supported more than 70 green energy projects across Canada. Additional Bullfrog Power community projects in the GTA include the Goodmark solar installation with SolarShare and North America’s first zoo-biogas plant at the Toronto Zoo. For more information, visit bullfrogpower.com/projects.