Develop a Rationale

Develop a compelling rationale for undertaking the community energy plan

Community energy planning can help mitigate risks and has the potential to lead to widespread economic, health, social, resilience and environmental benefits. While greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions are an important part of community energy planning, it is critical to define what other benefits the CEP can generate. A critical success factor for CEP implementation is defining how the CEP will enable the community to meet its economic, environmental, health, social and resilience objectives.

GTI Advice

The Getting to Implementation in Canada (GTI) Initiative, designed by QUEST Canada, is a tool to help communities move Community Energy Plans from a vision to implementation.  Strategies in this framework were derived from the GTI Initiative.

Focus on the widespread benefits of CEP implementation, beyond GHGs: CEPs have the potential to lead to significant economic, health, social, resilience and environmental benefits. Be sure to describe how CEP implementation will lead to measurable benefits when describing the plan to senior management and council
Caution against analysis paralysis: The analysis to support a CEP should only go as deep as is needed to gain support from senior decision makers and elected officials
Be precise, yet efficient: Aim for detailed, precise and defendable data. Consider that projections beyond 30 years have inherent limits due to technology advances, fluctuating energy prices, changing business models and cultural attitudes
Focus on actions under the jurisdiction of local government: When developing models, include business-as-usual assumptions as well as provincial and federal policies that have already been adopted. Avoid including provincial, territorial or federal policies that have not yet been adopted
Use familiar language: Use language that resonates with the stakeholder group you are engaging

Analyzing the Widespread Benefits of CEPs

Summary Of Benefits What You Will Need Resources To Get Started
Environmental Benefits
  • Reduce GHG emissions
  • Foster healthy ecosystems
  • Increase efficient use of natural resources
  • Baseline energy and emissions inventory, including community-wide data on electricity, natural gas and fuel consumption
  • Summary of the largest contributing factors to GHG emissions
  • Projected local climate change impacts
  • See Appendix I for a list of resources to consider for developing a CEP
Economic Benefits21
  • Reduce energy spending for households and businesses
  • Recirculate energy spending within the local economy
  • Create high-quality, local jobs
  • Attract and retain businesses
  • Increase retail sales
  • Increase property values
  • Capitalize on a growing clean technology market
  • Baseline energy and emissions inventory, including community-wide data on electricity, natural gas and fuel consumption
  • Community-wide energy spending and spending projections
  • Analysis of where energy spending goes (e.g. local, businesses, provincial/territorial government, other provinces/territories, federal government, or outside of Canada)
  • Projected savings associated with energy conservation measures
  • Spending on local distributed energy resources (e.g. solar photovoltaics, solar heating, Combined Heat and Power – CHP)
  • Community Energy Planning: The Value Proposition22
  • Clean Energy for a Green Economy, Community Energy Association23
  • The Economic Benefits of Sustainable Streets, New York City Department of Transportation24
  • See additional examples in Appendix II
Health and Social Benefits
  • Improve social connectivity
  • Improve mental health
  • Reduce cardiovascular diseases and respiratory illnesses
  • Increase physical activity
  • Improve air quality (indoor and outdoor)
  • Reduce healthcare costs
  • Reduce heat island effect
  • Baseline energy and emissions inventory, including community-wide data on electricity, natural gas and fuel consumption
  • Baseline studies on air and water quality
  • Records from medical officer of health
  • Healthy Built Environment Linkages, British Columbia Health Services Authority25
  • Community Energy Association Primer on the Transition to Electric Vehicles in Metro Vancouver26
Resilience Benefits
  • Improve access to reliable sources of energy
  • Reduce exposure to energy price volatility
  • Provide solutions for areas facing energy poverty
  • Recognize local priorities
  • Reducing the replacement cost of asset renewal
  • Baseline energy and emissions inventory, including community-wide data on electricity, natural gas and fuel consumption
  • Projected local climate change impacts

Methods for Measuring the Economic of Community Energy Plans

Table 6 illustrates a range of methods for measuring the economic impacts of CEPs.26

Table 6: Measuring the Economics of Community Energy Plans

Method Purpose Relevant CEP Approach*
Community Energy Cost Discuss total community energy use in a metric everyone understands, in order to generate different conversations with elected officials and stakeholders.
  • Inventory
Financial Feasibility Screen and prioritize measures, programs, or portfolios to identify if the investment will break even.
  • Get Started 
  • Practical Tactics
Levelized unit energy cost Compare the unit costs of different energy generating technologies across the expected lifetime of the asset, in real dollars per kWh.
  • Get Started
Marginal Abatement Cost Curve Compare GHG emission reduction options according to which will cost the least or deliver the most financial savings, and according to their potential impact on GHG reductions.
  • Get Started
  • Practical Tactics
  • Targeted Plan
  • Comprehensive Plan
Community economic benefits Inform the decision-making process, and stakeholders, on the total value to the local economy of a CEP, considering the how direct expenditures recirculate through local businesses, households, and tax revenue.
  • Targeted Plan
  • Comprehensive Plan
Cost effectiveness and cost benefits Screen and prioritize measures, programs, or portfolios to identify if benefits over time exceed initial costs, and to identify a portfolio of measures that maximize the economic, environmental, and social benefits from CEP implementation.
  • Targeted Plan
  • Comprehensive Plan

Case Studies

Case Study 15

Net Zero Community in London, Ontario

West Five ( is a 70 acre, mixed-use site located in London, Ontario. The site is being developed by Sifton Properties, in partnership with S2E Technologies. When completed, the neighbourhood will include 2,000 residential units, commercial and retail space, and parkland. The development will include a number of Smart Energy Community Principles,89 including energy efficient buildings (e.g. the use of enhanced insulation), the use of renewable energy resources (e.g. solar shingles) and matching land use needs and mobility options (e.g. siting services such as grocery stores at community terminals nodes). The site will include London’s first net-zero office building and net zero townhomes.

Read the Community Energy Knowledge Action Partnership case study here.

Case Study 17

Monitoring and Reporting on CEP Implementation in the City of London, Ontario

The City of London Community Energy Action Plan (CEAP) was adopted in 2014. Alongside the plan, the City of London developed a background document describing a methodology for monitoring and reporting on community energy use. The background document describes a methodology for developing annual energy and emissions inventories. The document describes how the City of London will also work with stakeholders to develop new Key Performance Indicators, including economic, transportation, and energy performance indicators. The results from energy and emissions inventories, and other Key Performance Indicators will be included in an annual progress report outlining implementation progress of the CEAP.90