SolarShare is a not-for-profit co-operative corporation whose mission is to grow community-based solar electricity generation in Ontario by engaging residents and investors in projects that offer tangible financial, social, and environmental returns. Established in 2010, SolarShare owns and operates 51 solar power projects across the province. Now, through the co-operative model, Ontario residents and businesses can enjoy financial benefits from investing in commercial scale solar energy projects through the purchase of Solar Bonds.
We’re often asked this question! SolarShare does not currently own residential systems. Rather, we own and operate commercial scale solar projects with long term power purchase agreements and finance them with capital raised by selling Solar Bonds to our members.
Joining the co-op and investing in a Solar Bond is a simple process that you can do online!
There are three key factors to understand about Solar Bonds:
- The Solar Bonds are secured by a mortgage of each lease of property where a project is located, which mortgage is registered in the Land Registry Offices in Ontario where the projects are located; and with respect to each project, a security interest in certain of the assets and personal property related to the applicable project, which security interest is perfected pursuant to the Personal Property Security Act of Ontario.
- Since SolarShare has a diverse portfolio of projects across Ontario, performance risk is spread across multiple projects and so there is less of an impact if one of the projects is performing below expectations. Each SolarShare project has secured a 20-year Feed-in Tariff power purchase contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator, guaranteeing a market and a fixed price for all the power produced throughout the contract term.
- Bondholders are not exposed to project development and construction risks. SolarShare uses a model of private bridge financing to pay for any project development and construction costs, and then the Solar Bonds are used to refinance the projects once they have reached commercial operation.
SolarShare is no longer offering the option to hold Solar Bonds in RRSP and TFSAs.
Investment in SolarShare is open to all residents and businesses in Ontario, Canada, including municipalities, subject to approval from the board of directors. Based on the original Ontario Power Authority definitions when the FIT program began, only "natural persons" can be co-operative members. While businesses may invest, they cannot become members. Members pay a one-time membership fee of $40 to become a member.
There is no market in which to sell or trade Solar Bonds, and none is planned. If a member wishes to sell or redeem their Solar Bond(s) prior to maturity, the member may make a request to the board of directors to sell or redeem their Solar Bond. SolarShare cannot provide a guarantee that the Solar Bond can be sold or redeemed before maturity.
The SolarShare Offering Statement is intended to provide full, true, and plain disclosure of all material facts and risks relating to investing in Solar Bonds. Everyone who invests in a Solar Bond must read the Offering Statement prior to making a decision to invest. The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) is the regulator responsible for receipting co-operative Offering Statements in the province.
The minimum individual investment is $1,000 for a 5 year Solar Bond. Any investment greater than $100,000 needs to be approved by the board.
Each SolarShare project is backed by a 20-year power purchase contract with the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO). Projects over 10 kW have a Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) contract, and those under 10 kW have a microFIT contract. These contracts ensure a set price for the electricity produced by the project and guarantee the purchase of all power produced for 20 years, resulting in a stable revenue stream. SolarShare projects have reached commercial operation and are generating power and revenues under the contract. Visit the IESO website for more detail.
SolarShare's 51 projects each have a binding 20-year power purchase agreement with the IESO under Ontario's Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) or microFIT programs. These agreements have been entrenched into law by the Ontario government and changes in government do not affect the legality of these contracts.
In late 2018, the Ontario Government cancelled a number of FIT contracts that had not yet reached commercial operation. This does not affect any of SolarShare's existing projects or Solar Bonds that have already been issued to investors. SolarShare's full response is available here.
Credit card compliance policy prevents anyone in Canada from purchasing an investment by credit card. You can purchase Solar Bonds online via Electronic Funds Transfer.
SolarShare currently retains TREC and Tapestry Community Capital for administrative support, book keeping and investment management. The SolarShare board of directors provides management oversight. All final decision-making authority related to material changes in the annual operating budget, business plan, and asset ownership rests with the board of directors. Board members of each organization serve voluntarily and receive no compensation for their work.
When Solar Bonds mature your principal will be returned to you, or you may have the option of reinvesting under the terms detailed in the Offering Statement at that time. Prior to the maturity of your Solar Bond, SolarShare will contact you via email to describe your options.
All 5-year Solar Bonds other than those held in a registered account with CWCF earn simple interest (you do not receive interest on top of interest). If you hold your Solar Bond in an RRSP/TFSA at CWCF, your interest will compound and will be paid out at maturity.
All 5-year Solar Bonds other than those held in a registered account with CWCF pay interest semi-annually in June and December. Interest compounds for all 5-year Solar Bonds held in a registered account at CWCF, accrues yearly and is paid out at maturity.
All directors, officers, committee members and employees must carry out their duties honestly, in good faith and in the best interests of the co-operative rather than in their own personal interest. Directors are all familiar with SolarShare’s conflict of interest policy and are required to state any potential conflict at the beginning of each board meeting. The conflict of interest policy also covers all persons in their households and all their relatives. All board members have read and signed declarations based on the policy. Read the complete SolarShare Conflict of Interest Policy and Declaration.
Disclaimer: SolarShare and its representatives are not investment advisors, and therefore do not provide investment advice or recommendations on the viability of investment products. The role of SolarShare representatives is to provide information about its projects, the Solar Bond terms, and to explain the membership and Solar Bond purchase application process. For information about the risks associated with purchasing Solar Bonds, consult the SolarShare Offering Statement. It is prudent that all investors conduct their own thorough due diligence by reading the Offering Statement. SolarShare recommends consulting an investment professional before making any investment decisions.
SolarShare members who hold Solar Bonds privately (i.e. not in a registered account like an RRSP/TFSA) will receive their password protected T5 tax forms via email by early March. Please check your junk mail folders and note that the email will arrive from Tapestry Community Capital (email@example.com) who provide investment management services on behalf of SolarShare.