Who we are
LIFE Co-op is a renewable energy co-operative with its headquarters in Kitchener, ON. Established in 2006, the co-op is now over 440 members, and we are seeking more member-investors to join us as we seek out new opportunities for community-owned renewable energy.
While our members are an essential part of the co-op - who often host energy projects, or find new ones, or invest in our upcoming projects - the daily operations and ongoing governance would not get done without the efforts of the folks below:
Shane Mulligan, General Manager
Shane has been working with the Co-op since 2010. Shane's work at LIFE has included development work on the St. Agatha Wind Project, and subsequently on the development of LIFE’s solar initiatives under FIT 2 and FIT 4. As GM Shane oversees everything from landowner relations to project development and financing. Shane studied and taught about environmental politics and energy for a number of years before joining the co-op and beginning to work on what he thought would be more tangible projects. He lives in Kitchener with his wife and two children, and a number of four-legged family and friends.
Board of Directors
LIFE's Directors are elected at the Annual General Meeting of the Co-op. Directors typically serve for three year terms.
2016-2017 Board of Directors
- Kumaraswamy Ponnambalam, President
- Robert Steel, Vice President
- Brittany Berry, Treasurer and Interim Secretary
- Dave McKay, Director
- Olaf Weber, Director
- Maurice Lambrecht, Director
- Linda Laepple, Director
- Sylvie Spraakman, Director
- Christine Koenig, Director
Ponnu (Kumaraswamy Ponnambalam) is a professor of the Department of Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. His interests include operations optimization, renewable energy planning, storage capacity design, and climate smart agriculture. He has a rooftop solar panel system and walks to work about half of the time; has also a front lawn vegetable garden in the summer, saving his family a lot of trips to the supermarket. Has been a member of LIFE for over five years, and is also a member of the local chapter of citizens climate lobby. In January 2017 the Board of Directors elected Ponnu as President and Chair, succeeding Olaf Weber.
Brittany is a Master of Environmental Studies candidate at the University of Waterloo and an emerging professional in renewables and energy efficiency. Her thesis research investigates social acceptability and effective communications regarding automotive biofuels in Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in European Studies and Business from the University of Guelph. While energy and the environment haven’t always been a major part of her studies, they became areas of interest for her while she took a year abroad (2012-2013) in Germany to do two summer internships and an academic exchange there. Those two short internships happened to give Brittany her start in energy business. Since then she’s continued to pursue her interest in sustainable energy through academic research and further internship work, including undergraduate research on community economic effects of wind project development in Ontario. She also works in marketing and business development for CoEng Advisors, who advise businesses in Ontario on energy management to significantly improve efficiency in their buildings. She was elected to the Board in 2016 and serves as Secretary-Treasurer since early 2017.
Olaf Weber, President and Chair from 2014 to 2017, is an associate professor at the University of Waterloo. His research and teaching interests are in the area of environmental and sustainable finance, including renewable energy finance. Before he came to the University of Waterloo, he was a member of the board of an ethical bank in Switzerland and a managing partner at a consulting firm in the field of environment and finance. Olaf has been a member of LIFE Co-op member since November, 2011. As a Director he expects to support LIFE through his knowledge in sustainable finance, and his work and connections to colleagues at the University of Waterloo, where he is frequently introduced to the latest developments in the field of renewable energy in Ontario and internationally.
Robert Steel, Vice President, is a mechanical assembler with post-secondary training in solar photovoltaics. Rob is an avid cyclist and outdoor enthusiast with a penchant for re-foresting Mother Earth through municipal tree-planting exercises. Rob joined the LIFE Board in order to take a more active approach to renewables and to build on his values of sustainable co-existence and reducing his impact on the planet. And, as a long-standing investor in LIFE, he also wanted "to put his mouth where his money was".
Frank Froklage, Treasurer, joined the board of LIFE Co-op in 2010 with the aim of becoming more involved in learning about and contributing to the development of renewable energy. Frank is a tool and die maker with experience programming and operating CNC (computer numerical control) mills, operating electrical discharge machines (EDM), and designing and reverse engineering of various tools. He has been a member of CREW (Community Renewable Energy Waterloo) for the last 5 years, and has been actively looking for ways to reduce his environmental footprint. He has been driving a hybrid automobile for the last 5 years, has a microFIT solar system on his roof, and has made substantial upgrades to his house to reduce energy consumption.
Dave MacKay, Director, is general manager of a busy national auto-glass supply depot in Kitchener and is a dedicated green practitioner. Dave has made numerous lifestyle changes to reduce his ecological footprint, including driving a hybrid vehicle and installing solar panels on his home. Dave's mantra regarding the concept of investing in renewables through the co-op is that it's a natural “next step” in forging his sustainable lifestyle.
Maurice Lambrecht is Manager of Parts and Service for EPS AB Energy Canada Ltd., which works with CHP (combined heat and power) systems, as well as biogas, landfill gas, syngas, demand response, and other gas engine applications across Canada. EPS projects utilize GE Jenbacher gas engines and range in size from 250 kW to 50 MW.
Linda Laepple, LIFE's first president and a current board member, has proven her capacities in co-operative development. She led LIFE from a steering committee of interested area residents in 2004, through to the formation and incorporation of a growing Renewable Energy Co-operative, and as a director she has continued to be instrumental in steering the co-op toward its goals, and conducting much of the technical work around the co-op's first pursuit - the St Agatha Wind Project. With her family, Linda runs a thriving organic farm near Baden (www.LaeppleOrganic.ca), and she is very in the local food movement, currently fulfilling the role of President of the Waterloo Wellington Local of the National Farmers Union. Linda has also self-published an educational children's book, "The Power Quest", as a means of introducing children to electricity generation and related issues. For her efforts, she was recognized by Wilmot Township as a 2008 Citizen of the Year in the Environment category. Linda grew up in Germany and immigrated to Canada in 1980.
Sylvie Spraakman is a water resources engineer and is now pursuing a Masters of Applied Science at the University of Toronto in innovative stormwater technologies. Sylvie has been an active volunteer in the political and environmental realm in KW, including with Leadnow.ca and Transition Kitchener-Waterloo. Sylvie has been a member of the co-op since 2011 and is excited to bring the co-op into new places. She was elected to the Board in 2015.
Christine Koenig, pHD
Christine Koenig, PhD, has been an entrepreneur by heart, starting up her own biotech research, strategy consulting and community power development firms. In the process, she has project managed complex permitting and construction processes as well as multidisciplinary research and consulting projects, developed marketing and communication strategies and turned many visions into operational entities and saleable products. Christine co-founded and developed the marketing strategy for Canada’s first biogas co-operative and leads the community engagement for a 2 MW community solar farm project. She advised one of Ontario’s largest school boards on its solar strategy and co-led the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Area’s community power and solar outreach. Christine frequently speaks on community power to industry and resident audiences and sits on OSEA’s Marketing & Policy Advisory Committee.