Solar Bonds Coming to Sudbury this Fall

solarbonds

In the last few months, we have finalized our detailed agreements with Soventix on how we will work together to build the project. Basically they handle the construction details, and we handle the selling of community bonds to finance the project, with a target of 2018 construction. The good news is that Soventix will cover any shortfall in our financing, so there is no doubt that the project will happen.

We have also submitted funding applications to various programs to help with the cost of developing and selling those community bonds. We are expecting to start selling them this fall, and are excited to see the response from the community. With a strong rate of return, a smart marketing campaign, and a project manager and staff person hired to do the legwork, we are confident the resources are in place for success.

To that end, we are finalizing a deal with reThink Green, Sudbury’s local environmental network, to act as our project manager. They are a great fit, being as passionate about the environmental health of the community as our co-op is, and having experience managing projects on behalf of other environmental organizations in the city over the years.

Thanks for all your support so far! We are just finally getting to the fun part of community financing and actually building, so let us know if you’d like to get involved. For example by joining the board, or offering to host lunch and learn workshops on the community bonds at your workplace or organization in the fall.

 

Co-operatively yours,

SUN Co-operative Board Members:

Arik Theijsmeijer, Bob Jeffery, Len Wiseman, & John Caruso

 

 

Advertisements
Happy (belated) New Year to all our co-op members!

Happy (belated) New Year to all our co-op members!

The board is excited for the new year so we can finally get to work making our first solar project happen in Sudbury!

The project is a 500 kW ground-mounted project on Estaire Road as we’ve said, and our partner Soventix is ready to start the detailed engineering and to get the final details from Hydro One on how much it will cost to connect the project to the grid.

This means by the summer we should have the final confirmation of all the project costs, negotiate our construction agreement with Soventix, and be able to start selling bonds for members and anyone to own a piece of the project. Co-op members will have first dibs on those bonds, and through them be able to support renewable energy, invest in their own community, and make a solid long-term return at the same time!

We are also working on the funding to help offset some of the costs of developing and marketing those community bonds, and hope to have that confirmed by the summer as well. If everything falls into place, we’ll be ready to build by next Spring (2018).

In the meantime we are always looking for new co-op members, board members, and start-up investors of up to $1000. There is still a great chance to get a high return for the short-term and help leverage government funding for us. For more information see our website at: https://suncooperative.com/investment-information/  We’ll be setting a new target for these short-term investments in the next while so we will keep members informed.HNY2017.png

Missed our AGM? Here’s our update!

Missed our AGM? Here’s our update!

2016 Annual Report

To view the AGM minutes, click here!

The major event for our co-operative during the July 2015 to June 2016 fiscal year was the receipt of another Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) contract. After having declined a FIT contract for a project on mining land earlier in 2015, we had refocused our efforts on the rural areas of the city. So in the summer of 2015 we searched for potential leased properties with the help of Soventix, our new private solar developer partner. We were able to sign two leases with local individuals, gained support from city council and applied for two projects that fall. After a long wait, at the very end of our fiscal year in June 2016, we were pleased to receive word back on those applications. One was disqualified on a typo and the other was approved!
The approved FIT contract is for a 500 kilowatt ground-mounted solar project for land leased in Wanup. That FIT contract means if we can build the project in the next three years at an affordable cost, then the government will buy the power produced by it at a fixed rate for the next twenty years. Soventix believes the project is feasible, and will be doing detailed engineering over the next months. It is likely we’ll be using a new racking technology that connects all the panels so they weigh each other down, meaning that concrete footings for each panel won’t be needed. We are happy that this innovation will further reduce the environmental impact and cost of building the project.

Unfortunately after months of work negotiating land leases, gaining city council support and gathering consent forms for members, we were unable to apply to the latest intake of the FIT program this month. At the last moment, the government identified that Northeastern Ontario no longer had the capacity for any renewable energy projects. We were disappointed by this news but are still happy to have one significant project coming out of the difficult FIT program.

Our job over the next year, as a co-op of 95 members, will be to develop and market the community bonds that will allow as much of the project’s financing to come from local individuals and organizations as possible. The 20-year FIT contract means we’ll be able to offer long-term, strong and stable returns to Sudburians who want a local and ethical investment that supports their own community. We even expect that people will be able to invest through their existing RRSP portfolio!

We are excited to be making progress towards our mandate to stimulate community-owned renewable energy development. As we move forward this year we were in need of at least two more board members to help guide the work of the co-op. Thankfully John Caruso stepped up at the recent annual general meeting. However, we still require one more volunteer.
We take heart though, after our years of volunteering as board members, that with a FIT contract in hand we also qualify for provincial funding to support the planning of the project. We are in the midst of preparing those applications, and are off to a good start with a $5000 contribution confirmed from the City of Greater Sudbury. This funding will mean the board will have support from professional experts and staff to make it all happen.

Finally, we’d like to thank outgoing board members Richard Eberhardt and Andrée-Michelle D’Aoust-Messier for their time and energy this past year. Andrée in particular has put a lot of time into our social media, marketing, and especially as our Treasurer the past two years. She is taking a break while expecting her first child soon, and we wish her all the best!

Your SUN Co-op Board of Directors,
Arik Theijsmeijer
Bob Jeffery
Len Wiseman
Andrée-Michelle D’Aoust-Messier

Join us for our AGM on November 3rd, 2016

agm2016Curious of what this past year had in store for SUN Co-op? Have ideas to share with the SUN community? Come and join us for good discussions, snacks, and a great interactive presentation by our special guest, Crystal Green Energy!

The AGM will be in the upstairs meeting-room at The Hourglass restaurant at 183 Cedar Street, downtown Sudbury (behind reThink Green) at 7pm November 3rd, 2016.

See you there!

IESO announcement and more FIT applications

IESO announcement and more FIT applications

Ontarians might have heard the news this past week that our government is cancelling some renewable energy contracts. We wanted to clarify that this announcement does not affect the SUN Co-operative in any way. What they are cancelling is the upcoming round of contracts to be offered to new large renewable projects (greater than 10 megawatts generally and led by private developers). They are not however changing their plans for the upcoming round of Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) contracts (up to 500 kilowatts in size). Nor are they changing anything in regards to past contracts that have already been announced or awarded. We still have one FIT contract from this past year in place, and we are still planning to apply for two or three more FIT contracts in the coming month. Thanks to all those members and supporters that came out to our public announcement on September 9th at the Fromagerie Elgin.
Our next steps for applying to this last round of FIT contracts is to get the support of Greater Sudbury City Council for the projects. We are on the agenda for the upcoming planning committee meeting to that end and are optimistic that we will have no problem gaining their support. These are all projects in rural areas of the city where we have a long-term lease signed with a local landowner that meets the FIT program rules in terms of avoiding wetlands, agricultural land or forested areas, and that will have no impact on neighbours. We will share more details in the coming weeks.

As part of these new FIT applications, we need our Sudbury property owner co-op members to confirm their property ownership and address by signing and emailing (or giving back to their local board member) this privacy consent form (PDF document). That form allows us to provide proof of our member numbers and co-op status and allows the government to confirm those members’ names and addresses for FIT eligibility purposes. Please fill out and sign this form as soon as possible. We will be following up with the owner members we haven’t heard from in the following week.

Also, mark your calendars for our upcoming Annual General Member’s meeting, November 3rd. Thanks to all for your support!

Your SUN Co-op Board of Directors

SUN Co-op Social and Announcement Friday, September 9 2016!

SUN Co-op Social and Announcement Friday, September 9 2016!

We have many reasons to celebrate! To discover them, please join us this Friday, September 9 from 4pm to 5:30pm at the Fromagerie Elgin to celebrate Green Energy Doors Open 2016 (http://greenenergydoorsopen.ca/), socialize, savour good cheese, drink local beer, and hear our big announcement! The SUN Co-op board and our partners at Soventix have been hard at work these past summer months and we are excited to share with you what we’ve been up to. The media event will be held at 4:30pm. All are welcome! Members will also be asked to confirm their landownership and residency – requirements for moving our projects forward.

Join us and share the SUNshine!

SUN in the summer!

SUN in the summer!

For the SUN Co-op it was a winter of hibernating, waiting for the sun to come back, and waiting for the results of our fall 2015 application to the government’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) program. Well the sun did come back with a vengeance this summer, and you can also keep a look-out for some good news to be announced at a SUN Co-op member and media event in Sudbury on September 9th! More details to follow. As part of the national “Green Energy Doors Open” Day, we’ll be part of hundreds of events happening across the country to celebrate and educate the public about all that is going on in renewable energy in Canada.

In the meantime, we have continued our partnership with German & Toronto-based solar developer Soventix, a specialist in working with co-operatives in community energy projects. This summer we have ramped up our efforts to find more potential sites for solar projects. We are looking for rural or industrial sites with 7 acres of land that is relatively flat, that does not have wetlands, good agricultural soil or heavy forest, and that is on a major road in the community since that is where the 44 kV hydro lines are.

So far we are expecting to be able to submit a few more leased sites to city council and the Ontario government for what is likely the final intake under the FIT program. This intake is scheduled to start by the end of October 2016, and then we’ll hear the results by Spring 2017.  Look for us on the agenda of upcoming City planning committee meetings and please share your support for your co-op’s efforts on social media or however you like, with your local councillors or local MPP.

Remember the goal of your non-profit solar co-op is to promote renewable energy, provide local ethical financial investment opportunities, and keep money in the community. We aren’t sure what the future will look like for co-ops like us after this year, but we hope to be able to continue to promote our goals through any new opportunities created by the current provincial and federal government’s focus on sustainable development, clean technology and a low carbon future.

Also look for the upcoming AGM in the fall of 2016. There will be vacancies on our board and we’ll be looking for members to step up and help us in this next exciting year.