Ontario's Community Power Fund has awarded C$1.1 million in grants to help community groups develop local renewable energy projects with a total capacity of more than 170 MW. Most of the 15 recipients are planning wind projects, including First Nations groups in northern and south-western Ontario with 80 MW on the drawing board and a group of 13 south-western Ontario farm families working together to install 50-70 MW of turbines on their land. "We are working with the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association (OSEA) in their efforts to build capacity and the right policy environment for community developed and owned projects. Often what proponents are lacking is financial support -- that's what the Community Power Fund is here for," says Deborah Doncaster, the fund's executive director. The fund was founded in 2007 by OSEA with C$3 million in seed money from the province. This provided the funding to help ensure local groups looking to participate in Ontario's program of standard offer power purchase contracts for renewables had access to financial resources to help plan their projects. Although the program awarded 214 contracts to projects totalling 915 MW in its first year, most have gone to commercial developers. That, says a November OSEA report, "has led to long connection queues that have effectively barred some community power projects from the distribution system."
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