Tag Archives: ZooShare

“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.

ZooShare searching for 33 new Toronto-area members to qualify for FIT contract… please consider joining!

As previously mentioned, I recently was elected a board member of the ZooShare Biogas Co-Operative in Toronto. It’s a social venture that’s trying to build an anaerobic digestion system at the Toronto Zoo that will turn animal poo, local kitchen grease and grocery store waste into biogas, which will be used to generate green electricity. The electricity produced from this 500 kilowatt plant will be sold to the province over the next 20 years under the feed-in-tariff program.

Funding for this project will come partly through the issuance of community bonds, which will pay a 6 to 7 per cent annual return over five years (and can be renewed). The hope is that the co-op can begin issuing these bonds to the public later this year. But to get to that stage we need a FIT contract, and to get a FIT contact we need a certain number of co-op members who are landowners in Toronto. Don’t ask me why you must be a landowner, or why you must be from Toronto, but that’s the rule.

So with this post I hope to attract some new Toronto-based members to the co-operative, hopefully before the end of September. The membership fee is $100 (one-time charge), and once the project is up and running and community bonds go on sale you can apply that $100 against your first bond purchase. For more info about the project check this story I wrote last year.

You can find out more information about membership by going to www.zooshare.ca or click here for Membership Form v.1.3.

I hope you can support this initiative. It’s a great local project with huge potential to be replicated around the world.