SolarShare Community Solar Bonds (Finalist.)

Community Rating

7.50847
Rating: 
7.50847

UPDATE: 11/11/14

Thanks for the comments and words of encouragement on the SolarShare submission conversation and posting page - in particular we appreciate the intent of most of the commentators to participate in SolarShare's community power model when we reach regulatory approvals stage.

Contestant organization: 
TREC / SolarShare Renewable Energy Co-op
Describe your venture: 

UPDATE: 11/11/14

Thanks for the comments and words of encouragement on the SolarShare submission conversation and posting page - in particular we appreciate the intent of most of the commentators to participate in SolarShare's community power model when we reach regulatory approvals stage.

Our vision for SolarShare is to build the co-op’s project pipeline and maximize the number of citizens who can become members and invest in solar in Ontario through SolarShare bonds - inclusion, engagement, education and empowerment through economic returns are key.  How expansion plans are going to play out is tough to say: in addition to the regulatory hurdles, there are many variables including access to capital, new energy prices, and effective widespread marketing outreach.

And that's what we're hoping to accomplish with the support of ClimateSpark. We're hoping SolarShare Co-operative makes it to the next round, to access the advice and direction we need to keep our idea growing, so that everyone in Ontario can “Solar Power their Portfolio” through the purchase of SolarShare community solar bonds and participate in the solar economy in Ontario.

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SolarShare bonds are about ‘community power’; opening the door to everyone to participate in the solar economy in Ontario, and reaching individuals who would otherwise not have access to solar generation (those living in apartments, shaded homes, or having limited capital for project investment). It exemplifies what the Green Energy Act and the Feed-in-Tariff program were designed to enable - profitable businesses generating green energy and green returns to the community.

SolarShare has taken on the initial investment, risk, and work in installing solar power projects across Ontario.  The co-op currently owns 18 projects representing over 600 kW of capacity, and has launched an offering of Community Solar Bonds to the public.

Individuals and businesses in Toronto and across Ontario are invited to become members of the co-op and purchase SolarShare bonds. The $1000 bonds earn 5% annual returns over a 5-year term, generating revenue from 20-year power purchase contracts.

The co-op model supports the interests of communities in developing new solar power projects, instilling a sense of ownership and allowing members to feel enthusiastic about uniting with other individuals who want to participate in the green energy economy and develop community owned power. 

Emissions reduction potential: 

In the few weeks since we posted our SolarShare submission, the total output of our installations has climbed to 270 MW, which using Environment Canada's latest .186 g/kWh equation means carbon displacement of over 50,000 kg.  Why is our track record to date so important?  One of the arguments we hear against solar development is that the technology isn’t efficient and doesn’t really produce any significant power.  We as a co-op are very keen to provide transparent information to our members and to the general public about how solar works to create energy and limit emissions - and educate ‘solar nay-sayers’!   

POTENTIAL: That said, we’re very excited about the future power generation potential and carbon emissions offsets inherent in our portfolio of PV projects.  If we never installed another solar power plant, our current portfolio of 18 plans representing over 600 kW of installed capacity, should displace about 152,000 kg of carbon per year, decreasing by 0.5% annually as panels age.

 VISION: The vision for SolarShare is to build the co-op’s project pipeline and maximize the number of citizens who can become members and invest in solar in Ontario through SolarShare bonds.  How expansion plans are going to play out is tough to say: there are many variables (access to capital is a big one) and a lot depends on the current Feed-in-Tariff review and the new prices being set by the Ontario Power Authority soon.  Regardless, the co-op looking to add another 250-500 kW of projects in the very short term, bringing potential offsets to between 200,000 - 250,000 kg of carbon displaced annually.

Anyone can monitor SolarShare installations by viewing a live-feed meter on the SolarShare website (solarbonds.ca), measuring electricity and revenue generated.  Each project site, spanned across a Google map of Ontario, is marked by a sun icon and leads to photos of the projects and real-time data.  Co-op members from the solar technology industry particularly get a kick out of the interactive nature of the projects. Others like to watch the revenue generated and see tangible results of their investments. 

The team: 

TREC: TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative is a non-profit, environmental co-operative that develops community-owned renewable energy projects and educates Ontarians about renewable energy, energy conservation and the community power model.  TREC consists of three ‘divisions’: TREC generation (of which SolarShare is a part), TREC Services (building capacity and serving other members of the cooperative community) and TREC Education (an award-winning charity with a range of energy education programs that create a lasting impression on more than 20,000 students and citizens each year).

TREC was the incubator for the WindShare Co-operative, the pioneering ‘for-profit’ co-op that installed and, through it’s 400 members, co-owns the iconic wind power turbine at Exhibition Place, providing renewable electricity to the people of Ontario through community ownership.

SolarShare partners with a variety of organizations that promote sustainability and community development, including the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, the Community Power Fund, the Centre for Social Innovation, Evergreen, the Canadian Solar Industries Association, On Co-op, and others.

Seeking collaborators: 
Yes
Potential collaborators should contact : 
Matt Zipchen, Project Manager, TREC / SolarShare matt@trec.on.ca
How will you ensure your project is self supporting within five years?: 

SolarShare has a comprehensive 20+ year business plan that spans the length of the power purchase agreements (PPA’s) all SolarShare projects have secured with the Ontario Power Authority.  These PPA’s guarantee revenue for each electron generated by SolarShare’s portfolio of 18 solar power projects until 2031. Projected annual generation for the installed capacity, which totals over 600 kW, is $489,000 in the first year, with about 0.5% degradation in panel output (and thus revenue) over 20 years.

CHALLENGE: Building project pipeline with limited access to more bridge / construction financing, and tied to a 'one bond per member' restriction until such time as the co-op receives regulatory approval from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO).

To ensure the viability of SolarShare, emphasis is placed on marketing memberships to all Ontario citizens and businesses, enabling everyone to invest in SolarShare.  In the emerging ‘impact investing’ market, SolarShare Community Solar Bonds offers ‘triple bottom line returns,’ presenting economic, social, and environmental benefits. 

CHALLENGE: making a lean marketing budget stretch through the 'one bond per member' development period and through the grassroots building of community memberships and education.  Having a budget leftover to reach out in a comprehensive manner with a new way of impact investing to a large audience across the Province.

FSCO regulatory approval is pending, most likely until late 2011 or even into 2012. At that time, members will be able to file their Community Solar Bonds into self-directed RRSP/ RESP/ TFSA accounts, and purchase an unlimited number of bonds.  Market research indicates investors are keen to invest an average of $5,000 in SolarShare bonds, and to hold bonds in registered accounts.

CHALLENGE: Covering legal costs through the approvals process and determining / actualizing RRSP eligibility.

How did you hear about ClimateSpark?: 
Website

Comments

stevelough's picture

This project leverages a lot of private money to deal with climate change while some governments delay or cut back on funding.

Reblacka's picture

SolarShare is buidling on government policy (the Green Energy Act and feed-in-tariff program) to access private capital, but with an emphasis on involving as many Ontario citizens and businesses as possible in the process, allowing everyone in a position to invest $1000 to participate in the green energy economy in the province.  It's what TREC Renewable Energy Co-op is all about! Well, that and educating people about conservation and renewables through the TREC Education charity.

Zell's picture

I was one of the participates of the National Round Table on the Environment http://nrtee-trnee.ca/

At the top level of government and industry they are trying to figuring out how to create a carbon savings program.

I think Co-ops are a great idea.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

How do you regulate things and get transparency on th HOEP

http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/marketdata/hoep.asp

 

Reblacka's picture

Hi Zell,

Thanks for posting.  We think co-ops are a great idea too, as well as a very workable reality.  Regarding HOEP by the IESO and SolarShare, spot prices don't effect the cents per kilowatt-hour that the co-op receives for power produced by our photovaoltaic projects.  Our compensation is determined by the rates on our Feed-in-Tariff contracts we have for the next 20 years with the Ontario Power Authority, providing us with a stable rate to use in business planning.  For more information on FiT, see the OPA website.  For the price we receive at the co-op, please see our Projects pages on the www.solarbonds.ca website.

All the best!

davidr's picture

At last community ventures are figuring a way to tap capital markets to meet Their objectives. Imagine social benefit and aa reasonable return...why not!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Selling more community solar bonds would be a terrific improvement to this proposal.

Reblacka's picture

Thanks for your support.  There are two areas we need to develop to sell more bonds - one is regulatory approval (so we can sell multilple bonds to each member / investor - we're currently limited to one bond per member) and the other is a comprehensive marketing plan (and that means a bigger budget to reach more ears and eyes with our impact investing product).

We're looking to ClimateSpark to help fund these two development initiatives, through mentorship and financial support to bring the right professionals to the table to help us guide our offering statement through the approvals process and afford to 'go big' when we are ready to market across the province.

Jo Reynolds's picture

Solar Bonds are a great opportunity for each of us to become impact  nvestors. This is a great proposal and an excellent way for everyone to get involved in developing local renewable power.  I hope that retail banks start to sell such products.  This will drive a lot of much needed captial into this new industry, and thus boost local economic develop while meeting energy needs.    It is a win - win.

SThorson's picture

Projects that don't rely on the committed few have a much greater chance to succeed, and this investment is excellent in multiple ways. The return is strong, the investment can be modest, and the vision is fantastic. This enables the economics of solar to work better than individual installations - another plus.  

Reblacka's picture

One of the challenges facing SolarShare is accessing more capital now to build our project pipeline, growing diversity and driving risk downward.  The co-op is looking for advice, direction and support from ClimateSpark's group of experts to help build this portion of our business model and access additional (afforable) construction finance capital is one hope for our entry in the competition.

andyknapp12's picture

I think that this is a great way to provide capital to the renewable energy sector.  With a reduction in required returns, we can all get closer to the grid parity that the solar industry is seeking.

Reblacka's picture

Our reseach showed that a competetive rate of return (which at SolarShare's 5% is quite strong given GIC rates these days) plus the ecological benefits of solar power, plus the social benefits of community power, prove to be plenty of incentive to secure capital from member / investors who are seeking 'triple bottom line' returns.  Check out the Social Investment organization's recent report on impact investing for more details.

Jo Reynolds's picture

This proposal is a great start for tapping into a retail investor market.  For instance, TAF has been a leader in proving or protoyping new financing strategies that can then be used broadly in the  market; such as the Green Condo Loan.

I think this proposal could be a protoype for a bond that has a national scope to finance numerous communtiy owned renewable projects, through a Green Bond.  

What role can guarantors have in establishing a scalable product like a national Green Bond and how can we get to that tipping point.... hmmm.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

It would be great if the consumer of the solar bond can also become informed as to how much energy their investment has supported through an easy app or online function.

Reblacka's picture

For the current SolarShare bond, members of the SolarShare co-op must have an Ontario address as the co-op is registered in Ontario and thus our members have to be in that geographic community.  Taking the SolarShare model national would be amazing, although there would need to be movement policy-wise to support community renewable energy co-ops and projects in other provinces.  Nova Scotia just launched a 'ComFIT' (community feed-in-tarrif) program and TREC ED Judith Lipp has been working with community groups in Nova Scotia to build their capacity to participate (uptake has been excellent).

We eagerly publish SolarShare power and revenue production - real time - now!  We have online real time data now on our website (power generated and revenue generated by project and in total).  Great idea of a smartphone app and would like to put the initiative into the works as a bonus for co-op members / investors once we've hit some sales targets.

Shannon Collins's picture

This is a great opportunity to contribute to the renewable energy movement!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

If only it was offered at my bank, I could get my friends and family from across Canada to buy one

Reblacka's picture

Hi Shannon - although SolarShare bonds aren't offered at financial institutions, it's very easy to become a member and invest.  You, your friends and family in Ontario (only) can follow the 1-2-3 steps at http://solarbonds.ca/invest and you're good to go.  Any questions, please contact Julie at info@solarbonds.ca. We hope to welcome you as a member soon!  

wesleynormington's picture

SolarShare makes me proud to be an Ontarian and Canadian. It's innovative and has excellent financial and environmental returns. Great stuff!

 

james_trec's picture

I love how SolarShare provides Ontarians, who do not have the capacity to buy their own system, a chance to invest in clean energy and the Green Energy Act. I also love how SolarShare is a co-op, meaning that it focuses on a sense of democracy, community and membership in addition to the financial trasactions that take place. Even more, I love how SolarShare is helping shift our energy systems towards an alternative resource that is free and accessible to all.

 

 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Let's continue to build familiarity with the renewable energy co-op sector so that we can build stronger relationships with the general public, government institutions and the financial industry. 

Reblacka's picture

Hey James, 2012 is the International Year of the Co-op: Did you know, for example, that 1 billion of the 7 biilion people on the planet is a member of / involved in a co-op?  And that Canada hosts a significant number of the largest co-ops in the world?

TREC and SolarShare are very committed to the co-op model and we'll continue to emphasize the democratic opportunities associated with it.  We're also partnering with MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) and other co-ops to promote the model and our community solar bond membership and investment opportunity.

For more info about co-ops, visit On Co-op's website.

solar girl's picture

Its a rare to find an investment opportunity that is not only offers triple bottom line returns but where you can become personally involved. And as a co-op SolarShare also offers people a democratic voice - one member one vote, regardless of your investment amount. That's a pretty exciting model in todays 1%:99% ratioed world.  While SolarShare may not be quite accessible to everyone, its gets pretty damn close. Where else would you get 5% return on a $1000 investment. 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

This concept needs to be expanded - new groups, new projects and higher investment levels. The regulatory challneges around good ideas are astoundingly entrenched.... I hope SolarShare will be able to break through these barriers in the next year to enable others to replicate the model.

james_trec's picture

Hi solar girl,

TREC and SolarShare are both working hard to help similar groups in Ontario start-up, develop and grow! We're strategising and planning to ensure that groups have access to the resources they need to build their own projects and continue this model!

Cheers,

James from TREC

Reblacka's picture

Hi Solar Girl,

Regarding regulatory challenges, there are indeed challenges to get this new type of renewable co-op offering statements vetted by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) - it's a learning experience for everyone.  Once we clear that hurdle, we'll be able to offer our members multiple bonds (demand is there big time if pledged amounts by our first hundred members are an accurate indicator) and RRSP eligibilty.  New projects will be more accessible once we can raise community investment in increments greater than $1000 at a time and/or can access affordable financing from other financial suppliers, at which point the co-op can compete with other developers for solar projects in communities across the province.

dbartels's picture

The strength of this proposal is that it allows residents of large, urban residential buildings - a very large proportion of Ontarians - to participate directly in promotion of renewable energy. This is a unique opportunity.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I've recently spoken about SolarShare to two friends who may be interested in becoming SolarShare bondholders. Prehaps it would be a good idea to promote SolarShare in publications such as NOW, EYE, and GRID. Also, an article in SPACING might help.

Reblacka's picture

Thanks for the suggestions dbartels - NOW magazine has reported on SolarShare in an article on local renewable energy, and we're sending out a notice about SolarShare bonds as a potential gift item to local media next week.

As a not-for-profit co-op, our budgets are wee!  We aren't in the position to pay for advertising until we've received regulatory approvals to sell multiple bonds and even then, we won't have a significant budget.  So word-of-mouth (like your telling your friends) is very important to us, we've lined up lots of community and environmental events at which we'll present SolarShare, we're using social media like facebook and twitter to keep costs down while building community.

PS we love Spacing magazine!

RogerB's picture

you had me after the first paragraph about $1000 @5%.

I'm going to simply assume that you've done the due dilligence on available space, demand for additional hydro purchases through current utilities, rates for small/fluctuating grid contributions, etc. etc.  

If all that works out.... you had me at 5% on $1000.   In today's economic times where mutual funds are in the tanks and bank interest is  <1%, this sounds brilliant.

 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

If the investment is proven relatively safe, I'd love to see this promoted as an investment opportuntiy... even if only at 4%... to a wider base of middle-income families, Not for profits, etc.   It's not a cure-all, but it would help those who can't access 8%bond markets, but might be able to pull up 1k.

 

 

Reblacka's picture

Hi RogerB,

Thanks for your note.  Your comment that SolarShare bonds are an attainable investment for a wide swathe of citizens and organizations is exactly the point of why we started the co-op and offer bonds to our members.  Our purpose is to engage the public and 'democratize' participation in the energy sector through investment with a reasonable rate of return.  The goal of the co-op is to reach as many people as we can and educate them about the investment opportunity, and we're doing that now on a low key level through outreach to like-minded listservs, through presentations at events, through social media and word of mouth.  We hope to go much bigger once regulatory approvals have been secured and we are in the position to offer investment in multiple bonds and with RRSP eligibility.

Join our community at www.solarbonds.ca.

hjansson's picture

The strength is that every citizen of Ontario can vote with their investment $ to increase renewable power generation. The guarantee of 5% return is also an opportunity to get a good safe return, without taking a risk with the stock market. The weakness is that the opportunity is not available on a more local basis - that is, you can't direct your investment to your own municipality or neighbourhood.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

I would like to see more advertising that links the increase in renewables with the opportunity to phase out nuclear. Big nuclear plants on the shore of Lake Ontario near major cities is foolishly risky and also expensive - even after the sale of AECL the federal government is still putting over $200 million dollars into it this year. Enough of the 'hidden' subsidies that make the nuclear industry in Canada seem economically viable. We are paying off the nuclear project overruns from the 80's now, and will be for another 10 or 20 years - just in time to pay off the next budget overruns.

Reblacka's picture

Hi hjansson, thanks for your thoughtful remarks.  In general, SolarShare focuses on solar power as a way to displace non-renewable energy generation and the co-op feels nuclear fits into that space despite the argument that it produces no emissions.   That said, we've not developed any messaging around the topic - I'll take it to the team and let you know what arises.

Regarding the comment that direct investment into local neighbourhoods is not possible through SolarShare, we draw your attention to the map of solar PV installations on our website's projects page to see if you live in an area that hosts a SolarShare generator.  Our vision is to increase our project pipeline as much as possible (across the province), so we're looking for projects (if you know of any please contact technical@solarbonds.ca) and we are always in the process of securing pipeline financing as well.  Hoping our participation in ClimateSpark brings us some movement on that level.

Jo Reynolds's picture

Today, I will join in on the Ciimate Spark Market and purchase my share for this idea!

marywarner's picture

With GICs at less than 3% interest this is a great opportunity economically and environmentally!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Can't wait until these bonds are RRSP eligible!

Reblacka's picture

Hi Mary, thanks for the enthusiasm about SolarShare's benefits to member / investors.  We are excited to participate in the emerging 'impact investing' sector and to be able to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits in a democratic manner.  We're working on RRSP eligibility with a number of financial providers.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Any suggestions on a financial provider who has worked with 'community bond' RRSP-eligibility (including a contact) would be highly appreciated.

elmsley's picture

well you got me sold.  I'm just disappointed I can only invest $1000, and it's not eligible for RRSP until next year.

Reblacka's picture

Dear Elmsly, Glad to hear you're 'sold' on SolarShare bonds - we'd love to welcome you as a member - and we hope to announce RRSP eligibility as soon as it is confirmed ... we're working on it! All the best, Rebecca

ebrian's picture

You guys have a great idea and model here to get people to take ownership and invest in climate changing initiatives such as solar power.  I think this can be applied to other areas as well! 

slyder's picture

Serveral articles this week have been warning of the risks involved with investing in solar. Today in particular it is being said that solar is in limbo after a report was released about falling prices.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

What effect does this news have on this project? Is it protected against a volatile market?

james_trec's picture

There is a FIT review process coming up to review the rates. However, SolarShare's FIT contracts have been approved and are locked in and we will be paid the agreed upon rates for the next 20 years. 

Reblacka's picture

SolarShare projects are protected from volatility and are not effected by commerical solar market turbulence.  Just to explain a bit what James from TREC posted, all SolarShare projects already have fixed-rate 20 year power purchase agreements with the goverment /utility (they are called Feed-in-tariff - or FIT - contracts) and they are very stable.  The makret makes SolarShare bonds a place where you can predict with some certainty that you know what your return will be, although there are always risks as outlined in the offering statement posted on the www.solarbonds.ca website.

mjanes's picture

Solid return on investment while promoting the shift to green jobs and renewable energy make this project amazing.  Top that off with a co-op model and this is a real winner!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Getting financial planners/advisors informed about the opportunities so that even more people get in on this chance to boost solar power and make profit.

Reblacka's picture

Hi Mjanes,

Like ethical funds and other socially responsible investments, it's often the client that educated the advisor about new trends and products and services in investing.  So please tell you advisor about SolarShare!  We're also working with the Social Investment Organization and the Social Venture Exchange at MaRS to grow awareness in the marketplace about SolarShare.

 

080808's picture

The bond system is grate way to engage the public sector allowing those who may not play the stock market a new vehicle for investment.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Increase the rate of return

Reblacka's picture

Thanks 080808,

The 5% annual return on SolarShare bonds is a goal we can be confident will go to our members, and ensures the co-op maintains enough operating capital and can safely grow a fund to purchase more solar projects (which is a goal of the organization - to grow pipeline and invite more members / investors to join).  We've seen really strong interest at the 5% level given the bond's risk level plus the social and environmental returns on the investment.

 

MNicholson's picture

We live in an appartment building and can't build our own solar installation so this project lets us participate and invest in renewable energy.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Can't wait until these bonds are RRSP eligible!

realsobersky's picture

Always good to make use of something that occurs naturally and with positive return on our investment!

pdesai15's picture

it requires a huge amount of investment.

it does not serve the complete demand and needs of the people residing in the building.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

it can be improved by cutting unnecssary cost and lowering the budget of the proposal.

by making it eco friendly is a very good example to society.

Reblacka's picture

Hi pdesai,

Thanks for posting.  In terms of cutting costs, SolarShare runs a very lean ship and a huge amount of goodwill and volunteer hours ... in fact the co-op President has worked full time for over two years on the project without any compensation.  I'm not sure where we could cut costs and still be able to operate.  Finding low-cost capital would surely help and we're working to find long term affordable debt to help the co-op grow (an area in which we're hoping ClimateSpark can help).

Thanks for the support.

 

SThorson's picture

Why don't we adopt the best from around the world? Why leave investment to bankers? This is a solid investment, and enables people to benefit financially. Let's get this investment off the ground and build awareness in communities across Ontario.

douglasjpritchard's picture

It's a great way to bring more people into supporting renewable energy including those without space for their own solar array. And an attractive rate of return for greening your portfolio.

How could this proposal be improved?: 

It would be good to have more urban sites to increase exposure and awareness to a larger population. The Daimler rooftop project is a good start but there are a lot more rooftops in Toronto alone. A local elementary school near me (Kew Beach)is trying to gather people into their own community co-op to put solar on the school roof. There must be lots more opportunities like this rather than having most of the projects in the distant countryside.

Bryan Purcell's picture

Great project, can't wait until you get FSCO approval so I can buy a bunch!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Improve the emissions reduction potential section. First, the numbers in your emissions reduction statement simply don't add up. If your systems installed to date have generated 236 mWh of solar power to date, that is equal to about 44,000 kg of carbon displaced, or about 96,000 lbs (not 320,000 lbs). The carbon coefficient for ontario's electricity supply is .186 g/kwh according to environment canada's latest numbers.  

Second, you should tell us about the potential, not whats been achieved to date. How much do you want to expand your installed base of solar projects, and how much carbon will you reduce if you are successful in hitting that target? Don't tell us where you've been, tell us where you are going.

Reblacka's picture

Dear Bryan,

Thanks for pointing out inconsistencies in our emissions reductions calculations.  I'm going to update our submission and here's more information, below!

UPDATE: In the few weeks since we posted our SolarShare submission, the total output of our installations has climbed to 270 MW, which using the .186 g/kWh equation means carbon displacement of over 50,000 kg.  Why is our track record to date so important?  One of the arguments we hear against solar development is that the technology isn’t efficient and doesn’t really produce any significant power.  We as a co-op are very keen to provide transparent information to our members and to the general public about how solar works to create energy and limit emissions - and educate ‘solar nay-sayers’!  

POTENTIAL: That said, we’re very excited about the future power generation potential and carbon emissions offsets inherent in our portfolio of PV projects.  If we never installed another solar power plant, our current portfolio of 18 plans representing over 600 kW of installed capacity, should displace about 152,000 kg of carbon per year, decreasing by 0.5% annually as panels age.

VISION: The vision for SolarShare is to build the co-op’s project pipeline and maximize the number of citizens who can become members and invest in solar in Ontario through SolarShare bonds.  How expansion plans are going to play out is tough to say: there are many variables (access to capital is a big one) and a lot depends on the current Feed-in-Tariff review and the new prices being set by the Ontario Power Authority soon.  Regardless, the co-op looking to add another 250-500 kW of projects in the very short term, bringing potential offsets to between 200,000 - 250,000 kg of carbon displaced annually.

Cheers, Rebecca (PS can't wait until we get our FSCO approval either!)

SK's picture

I have seen this same idea with Wind power, I think its great idea!

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Could be expanded to renewable energy bonds! Although starting with Solar is a good idea.

Reblacka's picture

Sounds great! TREC co-op (the incubator of SolarShare as well as the WindShare co-op) would love the opportunity to eventually bundle the technology-specific projects / co-op member investment products and sell RE bonds, and look forward to the day when we've built a portfolio of projects / investment products to work with.

We are always looking for partners (commercial or co-op) for project development: perhaps a bundled renewable energy project bond is one way to move that option along.  Thanks for provoking the thought ...

brockwarner's picture

I think it is fantastic that this is providing community members the opportunity to invest in a way that will provide solid financial returns, as well as benefitting the environment.  The city, province, and country needs more investment like this. 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

More investors are needed to demonstrate that this is a viable investment opportunity.  Hopefully this contest and continued promotion will help to sell more shares and get there soon.

Reblacka's picture

SolarShare hit the 100 member mark last week, and word is spreading.  We recognize we need to step up the marketing but due to limited budgets we're holding off until we can meet the demands of multiple bond sales and RRSP eligibility - these are both only going to happen with regulatory approvals and we're working on that too!

Jo Reynolds's picture

I wanted to let people know that MaRS is having an "Investing in Good Deals" conference on December 13th and 14th.   One of the workshops is digging into community power and how to move investment in this area.   You can check out the program and register here http://socialfinanceforum.eventbrite.com.

Bursaries are avialable for Nonprofits and social enterprises.  

How could this proposal be improved?: 

It would be great to have supporters of solarshare at the conference.   

Reblacka's picture

Looks like an amazing event Jo, we'll take the opportunity to the team and hope to see you there.  We are always looking to improve our capacity to understand the impact investing sector, how to express and build value in the social finance field, and outreach like-minded investors and individuals to participate in (and support) the co-op. Thanks for the tip.

GreenHeroes's picture

The SolarShare proposal is about the future and how to finance the change the world needs - encouraging the purchase of these kinds of bonds is a great idea and makes me think that parents might consider buying these for their children. It is this kind of PSA or commercial that would be great to see on TV! 

How could this proposal be improved?: 

Some sort of a video or infographic as well as a PSA that give people the option of participating. We wonder too how mainstream financial institutions could get involved if they are not already. 

Reblacka's picture

Thanks Green Heroes - you're the pro's in videos and we hope you'll like our 'intro' video for SolarShare:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8AR0skyZIs

We've been holding initial talks with financial institutions about how Ontario account-holders could integrate SolarShare bonds into their RRSP / RESP / TFSA portfolios ... it's early days with the big banks (and a small team working on it) and we're hoping our members will also take the opportunity to their financial representatives when the bonds are approved by FSCO (a major hold-up so far!).

Thanks for posting, and your proposal (and work to date) look awesome.

mpickering's picture

This proposal provides great integration between business ideals and environmental purpose - a great social venture. It helps build renewable energy in Ontario and could be applicable to other energy systems and approaches, too (see ZooShare!)

How could this proposal be improved?: 

For now, this is a big first step with lots of nagging details to iron out - Go TREC Go! But again, this is just the beginning - I recall a community power conference a few years ago detailing a community in Europe that was fashioning a collective to build, own and rent our supplmentary transmission corridor space - now we're talking.

Reblacka's picture

Thanks Mary for the encouraging words ... slogging through the details is a part of any growing business and we're up for the job. You've really hit the nail on the head though ... this sort of 'community bond' model is a great way to raise affordable capital to invest in any number of sustainable business ideas that can offset carbon, increase quality of iife, build community and allow for widespread participation.  

And I think you're speaking of Ursula Sladek, a woman from the small community of Schönau in Germany's Black Forest, who rallied her community to raise the funds and purchase the local grid - so they produce power and they control the distribution as well.  Amazing!

Cheers, Rebecca and the SolarShare team

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