Frequently Asked Questions
What is the SolarShare Co-operative?
SolarShare is a not for profit co-operative corporation with the express goal of growing community-based solar electricity generation in Ontario by engaging residents and investors in projects that offer tangible financial, social, and environmental returns. Since 2010, SolarShare has been developing and installing solar power projects across the province. Now, through the co-op model, Ontario residents and businesses can enjoy financial benefits from investing in commercial scale solar energy through the purchase of SolarShare Community Solar Bonds. SolarShare is a project of the TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative
How do I join and invest?
Joining the co-op and investing in a Solar Bond is a simple process that you can do online today. Visit the Investment Portal, fill in your email address, and you will receive a link to download the Investment Package. Send the Member Agreement Form back to us along with your payment by mail or email.
How risky are Community Solar Bonds?
SolarShare bonds are considered ‘lower risk investments’ due to four factors: (1) charge on title, (2) guaranteed 20-year revenue stream, (3) diversified portfolio of projects instead of a single installation, and (4) no development or construction risk.
- The bonds are secured by the solar PV assets and a charge that has been registered on title.
- Revenue risk is low since each SolarShare project has secured a 20 year Feed-in Tariff power purchase contract with the Ontario Power Authority, guaranteeing a market and a fixed price for power produced throughout the 20-year period.
- 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.
- Bond holders are not exposed to project development and construction risks. SolarShare uses a model of private bridge financing to cover project development and construction costs, and then the Solar Bonds are used to refinance the projects once they have reached Commercial Operation.
Not yet. We are working hard to find a cost-effective process for you to file Solar Bonds into a Self-Directed RRSP account. One pathway via Concentra Credit Union may be in place in 2013 (this does not include TFSAs which are not yet eligible). Currently the 5% interest is taxed annually as income. Please note that after tax, a 5% return is still higher than a tax-sheltered 5-year GIC or investment grade bond at current rates. We will keep you posted with our newsletter, subscribe here.
Who is eligible to become a member?
Investment in SolarShare is open to all residents and businesses in Ontario Canada, including municipalities, subject to approval from the Board. Based on Ontario Power Authority definitions, only "natural persons" can be co-op members. While businesses may invest, they cannot become members. Members pay a one-time membership fee of $40 to participate as an investor.
Can I trade or sell my bonds?
There is no market in which to sell or trade SolarShare bonds, and none is planned. If a member chooses to sell or redeem his/her bond(s) within the 5-year term, in extreme circumstances the Board will attempt to sell the bond(s) to another member, however cannot provide guarantee.
What is the SolarShare Offering Statement?
The SolarShare offering statement is intended to provide full true and plain disclosure of all material facts relating to SolarShare and this investment opportunity. Everyone who considers becoming a member and investor in SolarShare should read the Offering Statement prior to making a decision to become a member and invest. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO), regulator of co-operatives in Ontario approved the SolarShare Offering Statement in October, 2012.
What is the minimum/ maximum investment?
The minimum individual investment is $1,000 and the maximum is $100,000. This will be periodically reviewed by the SolarShare Board of Directors.
What are the details of the 20 year power purchase agreements for SolarShare projects?
Each SolarShare project is backed by a 20-year power purchase contract with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). Projects over 10 kW have a Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) contract, and those under 10 kW have a micro-FIT contract. Contracts ensure set price and guarantee to purchase all power produced by the system for 20 years, resulting in a low-risk, stable revenue stream. SolarShare projects have reached Commercial Production stage and are generating power and revenues under contract. Visit the Ontario Power Authority website for more detail.
How secure are Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) contracts in Ontario?
SolarShare's current 20 projects each have a binding 20-year power purchase agreement with the Ontario Power Authority under Ontario's Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program. These agreements have been entrenched into law by the Ontario Liberal Party and changes in government do not affect the legality of these agreements.
Does SolarShare accept credit cards?
Credit card compliance policies prevent anyone in Canada from taking a credit card for an investment product. We can, however go paperless with an Electronic Funds Transfer. WIth a copy of your void check or direct deposit information, we can do an automatic withdrawal from your bank account and save you the stamp. Visit the Investment Portal to learn more.
What is the business relationship between TREC and SolarShare?
SolarShare currently retains TREC Renewable Energy Co-operative (TREC) under a 3-year agreement for the management of its operations, specifically marketing, administration and future project development.
TREC is reimbursed for new project development and related expenses through project development fees, as approved by the SolarShare Board, and a monthly fee to cover the ongoing administration of SolarShare’s daily activities.
The SolarShare Board 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 SolarShare Board.
What is in my Solarshare membership package?
Your membership package includes your bond certificate and a letter informing you how you may participate in the co-operative process.
What happens after 5 years?
Community Solar Bonds have a 5-year term and they are not meant to be sold or traded within that period. When the bond matures after 5 years, you can request your principle back, or reinvest at the new terms. SolarShare will contact you at that time to let you know the options.
Is the interest simple or compounded?
Community Solar Bonds earn simple interest (you do not receive interest on top of interest. The 5% is paid out semi-annually by direct deposit to your bank account.