Community-Based Energy Development


C-BED Overview

What is C-BED?

  • We are building a community-based renewable energy development initiative. The initiative is designed to optimize local and regional agricultural resource economic development benefits from renewable energy, and to facilitate widespread development of community-based renewable energy projects.
  • The purpose is to foster more Community-Based Energy Development ("C-BED").
  • C-BED projects are owned by farmers, local businesses, schools, community groups, and ordinary members of local communities.
  • C-BED projects are aggregated in some cases to allow for interconnection cost sharing.
  • A strong C-BED initiative creates a stable market for renewable energy, which attracts additional economic development activities, such as renewable energy component manufacturing.

Why has a C-BED Initiative Been Developed?

  • Without a C-BED initiative, the vast majority of new renewable power projects are owned by large, remote companies whose primary connection to the local community is the desire to extract the resource.
  • Local ownership of renewable energy projects keeps the financial benefits of ownership in the community.
  • The preference and the requirements for renewable energy development are formally encouraged at many levels of government. The C-BED initiative allows society to "do it right" by leveraging the environmental benefits of renewable energy into long term economic development for our rural and regional communities.

What are the Benefits of C-BED Projects?

  • The financial benefits of ownership stay with the community.
  • Financing is typically done with local area banks.
  • Compared to out-of-area owners, a higher portion of the construction and operational expenditures stays within the local community and regional area.
  • C-BED projects create and support many jobs for union and local contractors, engineers, accountants, lawyers, bankers and main street businesses.
  • As a result, significantly more dollars per KWh circulate in the local and regional communities compared to non-C-BED renewable power projects.

What are the Economic Impacts of C-BED Projects?

  • A May 2005 US Dept of Energy study showed that wind power brings higher direct economic benefits to local economies than any other form of new electricity, including from coal and natural gas.
  • A September 2004 US General Accounting Office study found that local ownership of wind systems generates an average of 2.3 times more jobs and 3.1 times more local dollar impact compared to "out of area" interests. For example, a single 40 MW project built in Pipestone County, Minnesota, would generate about $650,000 in new income for the county annually. In contrast, 20 locally owned projects at 2 MW each (40 MW total) would generate about $3.3 million annually in the same county.

Where Could C-BED Projects be Built?

  • Wind resource maps show that the wind potential has barely been tapped.
  • Other non-wind renewable energy sources, such as biogas, solar, biodiesel, small hydro, etc., are viable in various geographic areas.
  • There are many opportunities in rural areas to economically connect renewable energy generators to the electric grid.
  • Many rural areas could easily absorb and use at least a portion of locally-owned renewable energy generation, on the order of 10 MW per county. Some areas can use 100 MW or more.
  • For example, a small cluster of wind turbines could be connected to a rural substation. This could actually help unload the need for building new transmission.

What Does the C-BED Initiative Mean to Stakeholders?

  • Ratepayers: Clean, stable, long term low cost electricity that is not subject to fuel adjustment or environmental penalties.
  • Utilities: Energy in the utility mix that costs less as time moves out; a source that mitigates the fuel risk of natural gas; the ability to offset emissions penalties from fossil fuels; and reduction in the risk and cost associated with management of nuclear waste.
  • Rural Communities: Hundreds of millions of dollars in local economic development activity and thousands of jobs.
  • Urban Communities: The ability to purchase environmentally responsible sources of energy; and the opportunity to directly invest in the economic development of the local region.
  • State or Province: Strong regional economic development; new stable tax revenues from generation and income; and an increase in the economic development authority’s ability to attract manufacturing and technology industries by creating a stable market.

What Will Happen Without a C-BED Initiative?

  • There will be a significant amount of additional renewable energy generation built with or without a C-BED initiative. The overall need for more energy and the economics of power generation are driving the demand for renewable energy.
  • The more important questions is: Who benefits from additional renewable generation?
  • A C-BED initiative ensures that new generation is owned by local community members. This local ownership provides significantly greater financial benefits for local communities and the region as a whole. These local and regional economic benefits significantly improve the long term economic health of the areas in which we all live and work.

    Let's do this right!