If Ikea can do it why can’t we?

Last month, Ikea announced that it is installing solar panels on three of its retail outlets in North Etobicoke, Vaughan, and North York.

If the numbers hold up, Ikea will generate $684,000 in revenue annually from its previously unused rooftops, from an investment of $4.6 million.

This money making opportunity is possible because, under Ontario’s feed-in tariff program, electricity generators are paid more than 10 times the average wholesale energy price for pumping green energy into our grid.

These attractive rates are drawing businesses, from Ikea to Samsung, to invest in green energy in Ontario right away.  These lucrative feed-in tariffs will not last forever.   But why aren’t our public utilities getting involved?

Toronto, after all, has over 565 school buildings, 99 libraries, 350 community housing apartments, at least 70 subway buildings, over 150 recreation centres, and many, many office buildings.

The Good Jobs for All Coalition believes we need to use this publicly-owned roof top space in our campaign to build a local green economy and a publicly-owned green electricity grid.

The City and Toronto Hydro need to buy made-in-Ontario solar panels and install them on appropriate public buildings across the city. We believe we can tackle inequality and green the grid by requiring our utility to commit to equitable hiring practices so young people, people of colour, and newcomers have access to new green jobs in manufacturing and installation.

But while Energy Minister Brad Duguid is outside Ikea stores congratulating them for the investment in green energy, it doesn’t seem the Ontario government is pulling out all stops to create a publicly-owned green energy sector in Toronto as well.

We all know our schools, hospitals, and libraries need to generate steady revenue and reduce costs associated with heating bills.

We believe  our publicly owned utilities should be true leaders in building a green energy economy.

Foreign companies send profits offshore; public utilities reinvest the money into the economy and the public sector and offer cheaper rates to customers.  In other words if we invest locally we get to reap the investment we’re making now by offering high feed-in tariff rates, because the public gets to keep the solar panels and the energy savings moving forward.

In addition, Toronto Hydro will always be more accountable to citizens than a foreign multinational. It’s far easier to convince a city agency to buy local and ensure Ontarians are hired in an equitable way than a private company headquartered in Korea.

Unemployment in Toronto is no joke – hovering at about 10%. It’s far higher in the city’s poorer areas, and among immigrants and young people who are competing with more experienced people for the same jobs. An incredibly depressing article by Atlantic Monthly on the jobless crisis in the United States, reveals how sustained joblessness has crippling effects, not just on our own credit cards and self-confidence, but on entire generations, who can fall permanently behind, and a country’s psyche.

Join us and endorse our campaign. Better yet, encourage a public building to partner with Toronto Hydro and go green. Contact us for more information – info@goodjobsforall.ca.