Plenty Canada has made numerous environmentally sustainable renovations and additions to its main office over the past year, many of which have been documented through this newsletter. However, it should be acknowledged that the organization has maintained a longstanding philosophy that has guided its commitment to sustainability, which has been expanded upon by new activities. The organization is therefore pleased to announce that it has met its goal of achieving carbon negative status. Moreover, the recent addition of a second solar panel array will further expand its electricity generation capacity in preparation for the activation of a second office building as part of the emerging Plenty Canada CampUs.
Plenty Canada’s original set of solar panels, in operation for the past ten years, are part of Ontario's MicroFIT Program. The program enabled users to develop small renewable energy systems to sell the power they generate through wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources, to the grid. The Ontario Power Authority had developed a Feed-In Tariff (FIT) Program to “encourage and promote greater use of renewable energy sources.” It allowed individuals and organizations to participate in “micro” renewable energy projects of 10kW or less.
“The organization is therefore pleased to announce that it has met its goal of achieving carbon negative status.”
Participation in the MicroFIT Program has enabled Plenty Canada to earn income from its roof mounted solar panels while also advancing the organization’s green energy goals. Though access to the program was quickly shut down by the Ford administration, the province continues to honour contracts that were previously authorized. Plenty Canada is halfway through its 20-year contract. Though independent actions like this may seem a small contribution, in the grand scheme of things every little step helps when it comes to bringing Canada closer to its eventual goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
For Plenty Canada's part, the organization has achieved its goal of becoming carbon negative. By comparing its MicroFIT statements citing the energy generated to its electricity bills over the past year, it’s easy to see that the kilowatts of green energy created by Plenty Canada’s existing solar apparatus has far outpaced its energy consumption. However, these statistics do not fully take into account the additional solar panels the organization has recently installed.
In November, Plenty Canada activated a new set of ground-mounted solar panels that were installed on the north side of the main office. While these panels are not part of the MicroFIT Program, they directly supply the office with clean renewable electricity, and surplus electricity produced is fed into the grid. This is called net metering, which is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy producers for the electricity they contribute.
With the addition of 72 more solar panels on Plenty Canada’s property the goal is to inspire other organizations and individuals to do their part to mitigate climate change. Through this and upcoming enhancements such as electric car chargers and a new battery pack system to store electricity produced by its solar panels, Plenty Canada demonstrates to other not-for-profits, businesses, and even individuals, that achieving carbon neutrality or even negative carbon status is possible.
While the organization is proud of its achievement, as a national and international advocate for environmental issues it considers these sorts of “outreach” opportunities part of its core responsibility. By the time that spring rolls around, when there will ideally be more activities taking place at the Plenty Canada office, the organization will be able to not only declare that it is carbon negative, but that it represents a case study for a new model of green energy sustainability worthy of being emulated by its community, peers, and partners.
— Breton Campbell