By Tyler Hamilton | The Ontario government introduced a program in 2009 that generously rewards homeowners who install solar panels that put clean power onto the grid. I was eager to participate.
But after close inspection, I realized it just wouldn’t work for me. I didn’t have enough space on my roof, which wasn’t properly angled to face the sun. I also couldn’t justify the upfront
capital costs for the system, even though I knew it would pay for itself after several years of operation.
It was disappointing. But then I learned about a renewable energy co-operative called SolarShare, and realized there was another way to align my values with my investments. SolarShare sells solar bonds, part of an emerging class of financial instruments called community bonds. In exchange for purchasing a $1,000 solar bond, SolarShare will pay annual interest of 5 per cent over
five years, which is significantly higher than what GICs and government bonds offer. An added bonus is that the bonds are eligible to be held in my RRSP. (A 15-year, $10,000 bond offering a 6 per cent return is also available.)
With the money raised, SolarShare builds large solar projects across Ontario that help reduce the province’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Since launching, the co-op has raised more than $15 million and invested in 34 solar projects. This is impact investing at its finest, made easy for the average person or family. For me, it was a way to safely invest some of my savings in a better environment, in my local community, and in my children’s future.
Visit solarbonds.ca for more information.