This month we have the pleasure of a Q&A with Community Energy Development Co-operative member Peter Pauls. Peter has invested in CED Co-op both personally, and through his business. We spoke about how he got involved, and why this investment ticks all the right boxes.

Let’s start at the beginning Peter. How did you get involved in Community Energy Development Co-operative?

It was through Jerry Enns (a founding member of CED Co-op). I’ve known him all my life. Our parents went to the same church, so that’s how we met. Jerry presented me with the opportunity to invest in CED Co-op when it was created.

What attracted you (other than Jerry’s good word, smile, and a handshake)?

He’s good at that, isn’t he?

I’ve always been interested in renewable energy. My first job was actually working for the Wind Turbine Company of Canada, and while working with Bell Canada had a project where we installed solar panels. For me, the interest has always been there, there was always a little part of me that enjoyed the technology behind green energy. When the opportunity came up to invest in renewable energy it made sense.

How does investing with CED Co-op fit into your portfolio?

The returns were good, there is some stability there, and just over the years, having a passion for green energy means it made sense.

It also adds an element of diversification. Everyone buys the banks, and the oil companies, so from an investment standpoint this is added diversification.

I’m not suggesting that investing in those other industries isn’t good, but this gives you the diversity, something a little bit different.

Is the community co-op aspect important to you?

I’ve never thought about it, but it is. Having come from a church environment, which is a community, the co-op being a community of like-minded people with a common goal makes sense.

There is also something neat about investing closer to home. All my business activities have been related to big telecom companies where we deal with people outside the community. CED Co-op is one thing that is inside the community. When I eventually retire, I would like to look for more ways to get involved locally. It’s something I have missed.

Where do you see the future of renewable energy, future of our planet, etc.

I honestly don’t know. The reason I say that, is that for most of my career I have been watching the telecom industry which has moved so quickly. Looking at renewable energy it could do the same.

I’ve watched so many industries develop so quickly in the last 10 years, it’s mind boggling. Part of it is, where do people want to take it? Both entrepreneurs and governments can help shape the future.

What would you say to a prospective investor? Stand on your soapbox for a minute and tell us what you think.

I’m not a “stand on a soapbox” guy – but belonging to the co-op has been an extremely positive experience, partly because I know a number of people invested in the co-op and get to stay connected to them through the AGM. From a financial standpoint, it made sense.

I would suggest to others that it all has to make sense to you. Decide why you’re doing it. Is it the dollars and cents, the green energy? Whatever your reasons, it needs to make sense for you.

There are 3 tick boxes – positive financial returns, doing the right thing with renewable energy, and belonging to a community. Something will get you in the door, but you will benefit from the other aspects. You get all three as a package deal.

That’s bang-on Peter. There are lots of benefits to investing in renewable energy, and each one appeals to different people (but you receive them all)!

I have a question for you, do you find that savvy investors are interested or focused on community oriented investments?

Yes, investors I spoke with have been glad to have dollars going to work in the local community (if you’re a savvy investor, let us know what you think).

I’ve talked to investors and business people who have walked away from deals, in one case a $10M contract, because it didn’t align with their values.

Wow. I love to hear stories like that about people who put their money where their values are and do good with their money while earning good returns.

Yes, imagine investing in a corporation, expecting a return, and in order to get it for their investors a corporation lays off people. Are you responsible for those layoffs? How many companies have issues down their supply chain?

How far down the chain do you look and take responsibility as an investor when you’re trying to do good with your dollars?

I guess at some point you wouldn’t invest in anything!

That’s why it feels good to be invested close to home. You know the team, and can be proud of what you’re funding.

Thank you to Peter Pauls for sharing his decision to invest in Community Energy Development Co-operative, and the importance of community oriented investments.

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