We are very pleased to share that on Wednesday July 18th, we successfully commissioned our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit and demonstrated ZooShare’s ability to export power to the Ontario grid–thus meeting the final milestone of our Feed-In-Tariff contract! We now look forward to moving ahead with the next phase of construction.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to our partner, Miller Waste Systems Inc., for their incredible dedication to this project. They assisted in completing project designs, securing permits, coordinating vendors and managing the construction work at the site, which required 12+ hour work-days everyday for 3 weeks. A huge, huge thank you.
We would also like to thank the following organizations and partners who assisted us in reaching this milestone:
ANF Energy Solutions
Northern Building Contractors
R.A Graham Electrical Contractors
The Toronto Zoo
Total Power Limited
On a sombre note, you may have heard that the Ontario government recently cancelled 758 renewable energy projects, including 15 biogas plants. ZooShare is not among them. While our contract remains in good standing, we support the Canadian Biogas Association’s stance that, “this decision ignores the environmental benefits [of] clean, safe, locally-generated renewable energy and the many economic benefits including sustainable job creation within Ontario farms, agri-food businesses, and municipalities and millions of dollars of investment in local communities.”
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out by clicking the email icon at the top of this screen, or calling the 1-800 number, above.
The ZooShare Team
Daniel, Paul U., Chris, Melissa, John, Victoria, and Paul W.
We are excited to announce that the first piece of our biogas plant has arrived!
On Wednesday, May 9th, our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit, the engine that will generate electricity from zoo poo and food waste, was delivered to the ZooShare site across from the Toronto Zoo.
The unit arrived in two shipping containers from Europe.
ZooShare’s Executive Director, Daniel Bida, was there in-person to meet the delivery. “It was an exciting moment. The CHP is an essential piece of our project, and as the first piece of equipment to arrive, it is the first step towards construction,” he said.
ZooShare’s Executive Director, Daniel Bida, was there to meet the delivery of the engine that will turn poo into power.
So, how does this engine work? Combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration, is the simultaneous production of electrical power and heat. First, biogas powers the engine, then the engine runs an alternator (an electrical generator) which creates renewable power for the Ontario grid. The rotation of the alternator also produces heat–and unlike conventional technologies that waste it by letting it float off into the atmosphere–the efficient CHP unit will capture that heat and use it to warm the ZooShare tanks and buildings on site.
The Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit.
The next steps are to connect the CHP unit to the Ontario grid, and then construct the tanks and buildings that make up the rest of the biogas plant.
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We hope you’ve been well since we last spoke. The ZooShare team has been hard at work together with our partners at Miller Waste Systems to move the project forward. Our goal is to work diligently to achieve the Commercial Operation Date as defined by our Feed-in Tariff (FIT) renewable power contract and continue to build and commission the project in the months following. The path forward has unfortunately been complicated due to the fact that we were not successful in either our grant application with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities or our request for low-interest debt from the City of Toronto. Having said that, myself and the Board continue to do everything we can to proceed with the project, as was the direction provided to us by the membership at the 2017 AGM. The good news continues to be that there is a viable path forward due in no small part to the strong support we have continued to receive from corporate partners like Miller Waste & Bullfrog Power.
To update you on the project and our activities over the last couple of months:
Worked with our vendor for the Combined Heat and Power unit to ensure we had all the specifications right and confirmed the timeline for delivery. At this point, it is scheduled to arrive from Europe around May 11th. This will give us sufficient time to connect it and meet the FIT deadline.
In relation to the above point, we are actively working with an electrical engineering firm and Toronto Hydro to source the complementary equipment needed to export the power to the grid. These two organizations, together with Miller and our structural engineers will also oversee the construction activities necessary to connect and meet the requirements of the FIT contract.
Building permit applications have been submitted to the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. We expect construction activity to begin on the site in late May.
On the funding side, as stated above, we were not successful with the applications made in 2017. While disappointing and quite unfortunate, we continue to march onwards in the same cautious manner – prioritizing the work and spending that allows us to maintain the FIT contract, at the same time as applying for other grant programs. In March, we applied to the federal EcoAction Community Grant Program, and this month we will be submitting applications to the GreenON Challenge Fund (provincial) and Low Carbon Economy Fund (federal). Once these are submitted, we’ll then look to apply for any other programs that may be a fit.
Concurrently with this work, we have been working with a prospective lender to complete due diligence and get approval for a long-term loan to replace the Miller construction loan once construction is complete. These discussions are progressing positively, and we are confident that it will get done by the end of May.
The beginning of 2017 has been about focusing on a few key activities to keep our project moving forward. We continue to make progress, and thank our members for their ongoing patience as we continue to work through the challenges related to completing this project.
Specifically this means:
We are very pleased to announce that we’ve extended our relationship with Bullfrog Power, as our Education Sponsor, for an additional 5 years and have been working together to bring on a co-sponsor to further support for our project and educational programming.
Working with Miller Waste Systems and our legal counsel to execute on the 4 key agreements that collectively form our relationship. Negotiating and executing all of these agreements simultaneously is complex and time-consuming, but we have made good progress and continue to collaboratively work through the challenges with Miller.
We initiated discussions with TREC Education, and an engineer who is volunteering his time, about improving and adding to our educational offering. This will include an update to the in-class workshop, downloadable curriculums for teachers to build their own digesters with students, developing content for signage inside the Zoo and at the biogas site, and building a portable digester to be used as a demonstration in the classroom.
We have completed a feasibility study, together with a local farmer, exploring the costs and benefits of locating small storage tanks on the farms in the area and more regularly transporting digestate there throughout the year. The primary benefit of this plan is easier management of materials for the biogas plant and ready access to fertilizer whenever it’s needed for the farmer.
And while we’ve been working on the project, the Ontario Government provided some additional information about their Strategy for a Waste-Free Ontario, which included a target to ban organics from landfills in 2022. This ban, which still has a little way to go before being put into action, would greatly increase the amount of feedstock that needs to be disposed of at compost facilities and biogas plants, like ours. The primary impact on our business of this change is that it will provide upward support to tipping fees on a per ton basis, as demand for our services will increase. More information about the Province’s strategy can be found here.
The past couple of months for us have been all about contracts – editing language, making amendments, coordinating between the parties involved, and getting feedback from our Board. While we’ve been working on those documents, the Miller Waste team has been working on the designs and narrowing down its list of equipment and service providers. Everything is moving along nicely and we look forward to closing these contracts in the coming months and beginning construction in the Spring.
The highlights from the last two months included:
Received approval from the Toronto Zoo to contract with Miller Waste for the design, construction and operation of the biogas plant. This included some amendments to our original agreements with the Zoo to reflect the changed market conditions since they were signed in 2012.
Completed first drafts and comments on the construction and loan agreements with Miller
Initiated discussions with Bullfrog Power about extending our current Education Sponsorship Agreement, and revamping our educational programming in 2017.
Design and Construction
As was communicated in the most recent newsletter, we executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to Design/Build/Finance/Operate and Feed the biogas plant at the beginning of October. Since that time, we have been working on the language in the various agreements that collectively will govern our relationship during the construction and operations phase of the project. We anticipate closing these agreements early in 2017.
While this has been happening, the team at Miller has been refining the designs and budgets, and working towards making final decisions for the supply of various equipment and services. This includes recently completing an Environmental Site Assessment to get a better grasp of the local soil conditions, and initiating an application to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to allow for the use of our digestate as fertilizer at nearby farms.
We are collectively making good progress, and are still on track to begin construction in the Spring.
Bond Sales & Financing
As noted in our previous update, bond sales closed on September 30th. We don’t anticipate issuing any new bonds in the near future, but will update you if something changes.
We have, however, moved forward with a Long Term Debt provider, and have been negotiating a Term Sheet with them, that we anticipate will be signed early in the new year. Ultimately, it’s our plan to execute the binding loan documents at the same time that we execute the construction and operations contracts with Miller.
As previously communicated, Miller’s role in the project alleviates the need for ZooShare to seek out and secure high quality feedstock from other producers. We continue to maintain our relationships and agreements at the current time, and will work together with Miller to bring in any additional waste producers. To ZooShare, these represent excellent sponsorship opportunities, and we are hopeful of adding at least one additional sponsor to the project in 2017, whether it is feedstock provider or another company working in a related sector.
Speaking of sponsors, we sat down with Bullfrog Power this past quarter to discuss extending our sponsorship agreement. Part of this discussion included ways to revamp and improve the educational programming currently offered, as well as planning for the post-start-up phase, which will include additional signage in the Zoo, tours and potentially an annual biogas design challenge for students. These plans are currently in development, and so we welcome any feedback and ideas. Please contact us if you’d like to get involved.
We have also been engaged in planning for the co-op’s budget and human resource needs for 2017, both of which are not substantial, as we head into the construction and operations phases of the project.
Bond Sales closed above expectations with a total of $1,154,700 raised.
Executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to design/build/finance/operate and feed the biogas plant.
Continued progress in securing Long Term Debt, largely as a result of the above. We received a Term Sheet with an offer to lend from a lender we’ve had a relationship with for a number of a years, and look forward to finalizing the terms of the loan.
As a result of bond sales ending, we are scaling back sales and marketing activities significantly, and therefore have been preparing to say goodbye to Frances whose last day will be October 14th.
Design and Construction
We are pleased to announce that we executed a Term Sheet with Miller Waste Systems Inc. to Design/Build/Finance/Operate and Feed the biogas plant.
Miller Waste has been providing composting services to Canadians since 1990. Each year, it processes valuable leaf and yard waste along with food waste from municipal and commercial sources. Miller Waste currently owns and operates four compost sites nationwide and has been increasingly involved in anaerobic digestion projects with its partners, including a recently commissioned organics decontamination facility at its Pickering Transfer Station. Collectively, Miller Waste processes 130,000 tonnes of organics annually.
Miller will leverage what it’s already learned in the sector and work together with equipment suppliers and a local engineering firm to complete designs and construction. As stated in the last update, we are excited to move forward with this relationship as it significantly reduces operating risk for the facility as a result of Miller’s access to and experience managing organics from the commercial sector.
With additional agreements to negotiate with Miller, final design work to be completed and then submitted for building permits, we will not be starting construction until Spring 2017. This puts us on track to begin operations in Fall 2017.
Community Bond sales closed on September 30th with the expiry of the Offering Statement.
We attended the usual number of events and markets during August and September, and reminded our many subscribers about the opportunity ending, ultimately helping us to exceed our $1,000,000 goal. All together, a total of $1,154,700 was raised in this offering.
As noted in the previous update, this was not a simple decision, but it was the right one. Ultimately selling bonds is a costly and time-consuming way to raise money in comparison to other forms of financing. With the addition of Miller to the project, avenues that were not previously available to us became viable, and so we decided to shut down bond sales. This is going to help us conserve cash and save money in the short term, while also allowing the organization to focus on completing the remaining milestones leading up to the Commercial Operation Date.
As stated above, bringing Miller into the project gives ZooShare an experienced operator that collects and manages sufficient volumes of commercial organics to more than meet our needs.
As a result of Miller’s ability to decontaminate and remove packaging, we will still be able to serve the needs of local grocery retailers while collecting market-based rates for the organics it accepts, and also leaving potential for sponsorship revenues to grow over time.
Sadly the end of bond sales also means the end of our need for a full-time Sales and Marketing Manager. Frances has been with ZooShare since February of 2014, playing a major role in all of our communications and bond sales over her 2.5 years with the co-operative. She has personally spoken to almost every one of our members at some point, whether it was answering questions, organizing the AGM, or selling/processing bond sales. As much as we’d love to keep her on, there simply was not enough work or budget to do so. Frances’ contributions and presence will be sorely missed, but we know she will be moving on to bigger and better things and wish her nothing but the best. Please be sure to send Frances a note to say thanks before she goes.
Initiated discussions and engaged in focused negotiations with one company who will be providing the biogas plant to ZooShare on a Design/Build/Finance/Operate basis, and also be responsible for feedstock over the long term
Attended nearly 40 events to spread the word about ZooShare and our bonds
Decided to stop selling bonds when the Offering Statement expires on Sep/30
Re-initiated discussions with long term debt providers
Added two new members to our Board – Andrew and Melissa
Design and Construction
We spent the first part of 2016 working with one company on a Design/Build/Finance proposal, and looking forward to beginning construction in May or June. However, we were not able to come to an agreement that worked for ZooShare, and as a result, changed our approach and began working on a Design/Build/Finance/Operate model with a different company. This change meant that we did not begin construction as originally scheduled, but it also means that we will have a well-run, well-fed biogas plant with reduced maintenance costs and higher average uptime from year-to-year. All of this means a 4-6 month delay to the start-up date, but with more stable and sustainable cash flows once we get there.
At this point, we see construction starting in November and the plant reaching its Commercial Operation Date next Summer.
As of August 16th, we have sold $622,600 of the 5% bonds, which are currently sitting in an escrow account awaiting the completion of construction. Our Founders’ Club bonds also matured this month and we are pleased to share that over 70% of Founders Club members decided to roll-over their initial investment into new bonds.
As noted in the newsletter, we have made the decision to stop bond sales once the current Offering Statement expires on September 30. This was not a straightforward decision – without all the feedstock under contract, we have not been able to get sufficient financing from a commercial lender, and selling bonds in small increments like we have has been an expensive way to raise money. Ultimately, the path that we’ve been carving out over the last couple of months made the decision easier – with long term feedstock and operating & maintenance agreements with a reputable firm, we can get the funds we need all at once from a commercial lender at a lower cost compared to selling bonds. Selling bonds also requires a lot of organizational attention, between attendance at the many events and speaking to so many current and potential investors, much of our time, energy and budget goes into this activity. Once they’re closed we can focus exclusively on construction.
We have decided that our best approach is to align with a company that controls decontamination equipment that can meet our needs through their existing contracts and capacity. This will not prevent us from receiving organics from local grocery retailers. ZooShare will still receive market-based rates for the organics it accepts, while also leaving potential for sponsorship revenues to grow over time.
As discussed elsewhere in this update, we are negotiating this agreement in conjunction with the design/construction and operating/maintenance agreements to ensure that all integrate seamlessly and minimize operating risk.
As you know, at this year’s Annual General Meeting, we added a new member to our Board of Directors: Melissa Felder has run her own environmental consultancy since 2001, with a focus on project management, business development, stakeholder engagement, research and technical analysis and environmental compliance. She has specific academic and work experience related to bioenergy, and has a Masters in Biological and Chemical Engineering.
Andrew Tarasiewicz joined the Board more recently after Peter Roles stepped down for personal reasons. Andrew is a Senior Consultant at KPMG’s Infrastructure Advisory practice. Specializing in renewable power generation, Andrew supports clients with M&A, financial advisory, diligence, and strategic advice, he also previously worked at the IESO and had a hand in the designing and launching procurement initiatives, like the FIT program.
Summer is here! Soon you will see us at an event, handing out information about ZooShare. Did you know the materials we use are sustainably printed and that the recycled paper is made using power from a biogas plant?
If you’ve seen us at an event, these materials will look familiar. We printed them with Warren’s Waterless, who received the paper products from Rolland.
ZooShare is a client of Warren’s Waterless, the most eco-friendly printer in Toronto. “We are a 0-discharge plant, both in air and water emissions, and our inks (exclusive to Waterless) are 100% VOC-free,” says Glenn Laycock, the Vice President Account Director of Warren’s Waterless. While many printers may advertise themselves as “green”, in reality they are green-washed: The industry standard is to offer the option of recycled paper and to use vegetable-based inks, so most “green” printers are just regular printers with a different marketing strategy. What you won’t hear is that “[a traditional] 40-inch printing press will discharge 80,000 litres of waste-water sludge down the drain per year,” says Glenn. He was so frustrated by so-called “green” printers that during a staff meeting he exclaimed, “environmental printing is more than recycled paper!” which consequently became the company’s trademarked slogan.
The company started out as a film shop, but as film started to disappear, they transitioned into a printing company. “We got into waterless because of the higher quality print,” says Glenn, “but we very quickly shot ourselves in the foot, because if you advertise yourself as a high quality printer, there’s implied cost.” As the company began to recognize the environmental benefits of waterless printing, they built on their environmental identity, receiving numerous environmental certifications and powering their entire plant with Bullfrog Power. “When we started marketing ourselves as an eco-printer, we very quickly shot ourselves in the other foot, because there’s implied cost.” But there isn’t extra cost: Warren’s Waterless doesn’t buy the chemicals and additives needed by a traditional printer, nor do they pay for water. Warren’s found a loyal following in the not-for-profit community. “It’s been fantastic for us, we are incredibly busy,” says Glenn.
Glenn Laycock, Vice President Account Director of Warren’s Waterless, at their printing house in Toronto.
In addition to being a waterless, 0-discharge plant using safer inks and supporting renewable energy, Warren’s Waterless uses Rolland paper products: “Paper of virgin fibre is substantially cheaper than recycled paper,” explains Glenn. “Cascades [now Rolland] was the first one to come along with a recycled sheet that got the price point closer to where clients would go ‘ok, I’ll spend a few dollars more’, now they got the price point in where it’s almost a wash between a virgin sheet and their sheet.”
The landfill site from which Rolland gets its biogas.
Rolland is the only fine paper manufacturer to use biogas in North America. The Rolland website explains, “energy is a major factor in determining a paper’s environmental impact…As a renewable energy source derived from local landfill methane, biogas drives our carbon footprint to the lowest levels in the industry.” Their biogas is transported from a nearby landfill via an 8-mile pipeline to fulfill 93% of the paper mill’s needs, reducing their CO2 emissions by 70,000 tons, or 23,400 compact cars, annually.
“Using biogas at our plant has allowed us to stabilize our energy supply and to reduce our costs. Despite the tremendous initial investment, this project is, simply put, profitable,” explains Julie Loyer, Commnication and Sustainable Development Manager at Rolland. She writes: “The idea to use biogas in this way did not come from paid consultants, or even from Rolland’s own scientists, but rather from a single, curious and passionate employee. It was the director of purchases at that time who had the idea while watching a television program on the reduction of greenhouse gases. He dug a little deeper only to discover that his idea had some potential for Rolland…Eventually, several departments and specialists – both internal and external – had to get involved, and millions of dollars had to be invested to implement this. The birth of such a massive project, which involved a non-traditional process of inspiration and execution, was made possible by a company’s open leadership that continues to leave room for its employees to generate and develop new ideas.”
So there you have it: Recycled paper is created at Rolland, powered by their biogas plant, where it is then sustainably printed at Warren’s Waterless into ZooShare brochures, that end up in your hands…We look forward to seeing you at our next event!
On April 19th 2016 at 9:30am we gathered with our members, The Toronto Zoo, Bullfrog Power, and TREC Education to celebrate the groundbreaking of the ZooShare biogas plant. Speakers included the Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, the Chair of the Toronto Zoo board, Councilor Raymond Cho, and the CEO of Bullfrog Power, Ron Seftel. Media at the event included Global News, CityNews, The National Post, The Scarborough Mirror and more!
The event was held at the ZooShare site, on the east side of Meadowvale Road, across from the Toronto Zoo.
It was a great turn out!
Paul Ungerman, ZooShare’s Board Chair, was the MC for the event. “We’ve all come here today, during the start of Earth Week, to mark the start of construction of our 500 KW community owned biogas plant, right here at the Toronto Zoo…Thank you. Thank you for your support, commitment and help in reaching this major milestone…It’s not often an easy choice to invest with your heart, but we’re really glad you made it.”
Ontario’s Minister of Energy, Bob Chiarelli, congratulated ZooShare on their project, saying the plant was part of a province-wide shift to renewable energies. “You’re showing leadership, you’re showing excitement for the community, you’re giving new life to the zoo,” he said. [Source: http://goo.gl/k8rbSJ]
Councillor Raymond Cho, Chair of the Toronto Zoo board, said the biogas plant off Meadowvale Road perfectly fits the zoo’s strategy of turning itself into a conservation centre of excellence. [source: http://goo.gl/k8rbSJ]
Ron Seftel, CEO of Bullfrog Power (our Education Sponsor) said “We really believe it’s the way of the future.”
From left to right: John Tracogna (CEO of The Toronto Zoo), Councillor Raymond Cho (Toronto Zoo Board Chair), Ron Seftel (CEO of Bullfrog Power), Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli, Paul Ungerman (ZooShare Board Chair), Daniel Bida (ZooShare ED) and Toronto Zoo Board members Paul Doyle and Councillor Paul Ainslie.
ZooShare members lined up for their big media-moment.
ZooShare members, family and friends, gather around a pile of what will soon be one of the ZooShare biogas plant’s by-products: a high nutrient fertilizer created from zoo poo.
A pile of compost lit up by the morning sun. (It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky.)
ZooShare’s Executive Director Daniel Bida and ZooShare’s Sales and Marketing Manager Frances Darwin, dig in.
A manure truck leaves the ZooShare site, soon to be back with fresh ingredients for the compost…By the end of the year, the manure will be fuel for the ZooShare biogas plant.
Executed Connection Cost Agreement with Toronto Hydro
Continued progress in our pursuit of additional feedstock, with positive movement on 2 different fronts, and can see a path to executing the appropriate agreements.
Continued progress in our negotiations to sign a binding turnkey design/build/finance contract
As of May 9th, we had sold $433,600 of the 5% bonds, which are currently sitting in an escrow account awaiting the completion of construction.
If you would like to invest in the latest bond offering, please fill out the form here (if you you a ZooShare member, make sure to check the “Yes, I’ve paid my ZooShare membership fee” box).
We attended a number of events this past month, in addition to leveraging the amazing media attention received at the Groundbreaking Ceremony. ZooShare was featured on City TV, CP24, Global News, CBC, and Yahoo! Canada, among others – which caused a spike in website traffic, Facebook engagement and bond sales, exactly what we were hoping would happen. Building off this momentum and continuing to grow our database of potential investors, we hosted a booth at Seedy Saturday in Scarborough, the Green Living Show and the Zoo Earth Day Festival. We plan on attending a fair number of farmers markets and street festivals around the GTA this summer with the help of students and volunteers to keep the momentum going.
Nothing significant to report on this front other than progress – conversations with waste producers and haulers continued and have been positive in tone, and have also included a couple that control transfer station capacity equipped with de-packaging equipment. As discussed in the past, this transfer station capacity is key, as we cannot deploy this equipment on site, and almost all available waste is in a package or a bag. With a contractual relationship with a transfer station owner, we can serve our current partners and/or take on others that can provide our needs. We are heartened that all of these conversations include the counter-party highlighting our terrific location, which continues to get more valuable as fuel costs increase and we get closer to a potential ban on organics going to landfills. Without being able to disclose the details, we see a path towards signing the feedstock supply contracts we need for a sufficient term to secure long term project financing.
Design and Construction
As previously communicated, the 30% project design and drawings have been completed and building permit applications have been submitted to the respective authorities. We have also met with and received comments from the City, the Zoo and TRCA about the designs, and the appropriate responses have been prepared. The turnkey contract continues to be our primary focus, but disappointingly, it is not yet ready for signing. We continue to work on it, and are confident that this issue will be resolved in the coming weeks, without causing significant delays to our construction schedule.