Tag Archives: SolarShare

“Green” community bonds gather momentum in Ontario

There is plenty of good news happening around community bonds in my home province. SolarShare, for example, announced on Dec. 6 that it had been approved by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario to sell bonds (which offer a 5 per cent annual return) beyond a cap of $1,000. It is now selling up to $25,000, and can go even higher if requests are approved on an individual basis by their board of directors. This has opened up the possibility off pursuing projects more aggressively. The co-op is now going through a process to make its bonds RRSP-eligible. “Once an independent evaluation of SolarShare mortgages that secure your bonds is complete and we have received a legal opinion based on that evaluation, a self-directed RRSP account can be opened through Concentra Credit Union via the Canadian Workers Co-op Federation (CWCF),” the co-op reported in a recent newsletter. “You are also welcome to take that legal opinion to your own wealth management representative and request an account through other channels” —  i.e. you can take it to your own bank and make a case for carrying the bonds in your existing self-directed RRSP.

These bonds are a safe investment, so if you’re tired of getting pummeled by the market and want a safe 5 per cent return, you might want to learn more at www.solarbonds.ca

SolarShare also announced this week that it has partnered with green energy retailer Bullfrog Power, which is helping to finance future co-op solar projects. As an investor, Bullfrog will also market SolarShare’s “solar bonds” to its existing network of green-minded electricity customers. It’s a great partnership.

Meanwhile, ZooShare Biogas Co-operative — of which I am on the board of directors — is making some solid progress with its plans to take animal poo from the Toronto Zoo and turn it into biogas that will be used  for electricity generation. Ontario’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) program finally opened up again just today for small FIT projects, meaning projects like the one ZooShare is pursuing can now apply for a 20-year power purchase agreement with the province. ZooShare has plenty of members now, including the  required number of Toronto property owners, so now we just apply to the FIT program and sit tight for a contract offer. As soon as that comes, it’s full steam ahead…

I’m really hyped about the ZooShare project. If we can show how it’s done, we can replicate the approach in zoos across North America. The pootential is huge, if you’ll excuse the pun. Like SolarShare, community bonds will also be offered for this project, promising a generous 7 per cent annual return based on current calculations. The fact that SolarShare has blazed the trail to get approval from the Financial Services Commission bodes well as we prepare to file our bond offer prospectus. That precedent, as well as the precedent being set for RRSP-eligibility, will also prove beneficial.

For past articles explaining the concept of community bonds and describing the  above projects, click here and here.

SolarShare begins offering community bonds to support several solar PV projects throughout Ontario

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.