The SolarShare Co-operative, developed by the TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative, began offering its community solar bonds this week to support eighteen solar projects that are already built and generating revenue under the provincial feed-in-tariff program. Together, these projects total 600 kilowatts and about $3.7 million in investment, but SolarShare hopes the community bond models will allow it to expand over the coming years.
Why might this interest you? Well, we don’t all own homes, and even if we do, our homes don’t always have the right rooftops for a solar installation. And some of us really don’t want the hassle of investing and owning a solar installation. Here’s what many people do want: a way to contribute to the greening of the Ontario economy and energy system while also having a safe place to invest their money.
The community bond delivers this. SolarShare is offering $1,000 bonds that earn a 5 per cent annual return over 5 years. Because the projects are already built and generating electricity, and because revenues from the electricity sold onto the grid are guaranteed under the FIT program, this is a very safe investment. “SolarShare bonds enable socially responsible investors to participate in an environmental initiative that positively impacts communities throughout Ontario,” according to SolarShare. “In an emerging ‘impact investing’ market, where returns are measured not just by economic, but also social and environmental benefits, SolarShare projects provide local economic development, generate clean, safe renewable enrgy that tackles climate change, and pay a competitive rate of return to investors.”
Now, at the moment, people can only purchase a single $1,000 bond. SolarShare is waiting for final approval from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario before it can offer multiple bonds. Anyone interested can go to Solar Share’s website Solarbonds.ca.
Personally, I’m hoping to see dozens of these community bond offerings sprout up across Ontario. It’s a great way to secure community participation in green energy projects. ZooShare, another community bond offering in the works, wants to produce green electricity from biogas made from Toronto Zoo animal manure. I wrote recently about the community bond trend. You can read it here.