Category Archives: Member Update

Member update: November 2015

This past month, we achieved another two major milestones: 1) We selected a technology partner and, 2) We received Notice to Proceed from the IESO.   We also continued discussions with FSCO regarding additional bonds, which should be available in the coming weeks, and spoke with numerous waste management companies regarding our feedstock needs.

Bond Sales & Revised Offering Statement

Since we began taking names and pledges for a waiting list, we have 162 individuals and total pledges of between $765,000 and $1,012,000. We are planning to sell more bonds in the coming weeks, once we receive approval from the co-op regulator (FSCO), so please stay tuned for more info shortly.  If you would like to get on our official waiting list, please fill out the form here (make sure to check the “Yes, I am already registered as a ZooShare member” box).

Notice to Proceed

The Independent Electricity System Operator issued Notice to Proceed to ZooShare on October 27th.  As far as our FIT contract goes, the last remaining step is to complete construction and reach our Commercial Operation Date (when power will begin to be exported to the grid).

Biogas equipment and financing

After spending about a month reviewing technology proposals, asking questions to understand the gaps and differing design philosophies, on October 26th, ZooShare’s Board approved the recommendation made by its Executive Director to select BIOFerm Viessman as our technology partner.  BIOFerm Energy Systems is a Wisconsin-based renewable energy company providing North American operations with sustainable waste management technology through anaerobic digestion.  BIOFerm is a member of the Viessman Group, a $2.8 billion family owned business since 1917.  Viessman has installed over 400 anaerobic digestion facilities through the biogas companies of the Viessman Group.

In addition to a very strong proposal, BIOFerm also offered ZooShare construction financing at an attractive rate, which we were happy to accept.  This financing, together with our Community Bonds previously issued, will cover the costs of construction.

We are extremely excited to be working with BIOFerm Viessman on this project and to begin construction in Spring 2016.

Feedstock

While our discussions continued with multiple waste management companies, we have nothing new to report from the last month on this front. We will continue to negotiate and work towards an agreement with our grocery partner, which should only be helped by the additional milestones recently achieved.

Member update: October 2015

This past month, after receiving our REA, we began to move forward on 3 important items that were all waiting for this milestone to be reached: 1. A revised Offering Statement; 2. Applying for Notice to Proceed; and 3. Selecting a technology supplier. We are also continuing discussions with waste management companies to finalize an agreement on process and delivery of organic waste.

Bond Sales & Revised Offering Statement

Since we began taking names and pledges for a waiting list, we have 122 individuals and total pledges of between $592,000 and $830,000. Given the strong demand for our bonds, ZooShare and its Board have decided to raise more funds from our community of supporters and less from commercial lenders. We revised and submitted the Offering Statement to FSCO on Sept 30 for approval. We are planning to sell more bonds in the coming weeks, so if you would like to get on our official waiting list, please fill out the form here (make sure to check the “Yes, I am already registered as a ZooShare member” box).

Notice to Proceed

As you would have read last month, the final REA was received on August 28, and we are currently preparing the forms to to apply for Notice to Proceed (the next phase of the FIT contracting process).

Biogas equipment and financing

We have received proposals from 5 different biogas companies and 4 different generator companies, which are now being reviewed with a target of making a selection by mid-to-late October. We are focused on getting started with detailed engineering shortly, so that we can submit the designs to the Zoo & TRCA for approval, and have enough time to begin construction in the Spring.

Various equipment providers have offered construction and long term debt financing, and discounts, as part of their quotes for the project. This route, combined with the additional Community Bonds, is the likeliest financing avenue for getting the project off the ground.

Feedstock

We received Expressions of Interest from multiple waste management companies interested in working for both our grocery partner and ZooShare to process and deliver the organics we need. These letters should give our partner the confidence it needs to know that it will continue to have multiple service options once its contract with ZooShare kicks in next year. A meeting will take place in the next couple of weeks to deliver these letters and a draft contract for them to review. Given the milestones ZooShare has achieved recently, it is time to get this agreement finalized so that we can confidently move forward with detailed engineering.

Member update: September 2015

This past month, we reached a critical milestone: The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change issued their Renewable Energy Approval to ZooShare!  In addition to this, we made good progress in resolving the challenges related to securing our feedstock; And learned about the discounts that potential equipment suppliers can offer us.

Feedstock

As we stated last month, a meeting with our grocery partner revealed the path forward to resolving the remaining challenges and getting the contract done.  Over the last 4 weeks, we have been working on determining how many of the waste management companies operating in this market have the ability and willingness to pick-up organics from our partner, remove contaminants and drop off the material at our biogas plant.  Early conversations have been positive and we are working up an Expression of Interest for potential suppliers to sign in order to further support our research and give confidence to our partner.  We plan to have as many of these signed as possible in preparation for a September meeting with our partner.

In addition, we continue discussions with other waste producers and waste management companies, ensuring that ZooShare is able to get the supply it needs for the best possible price.

Bond Sales

Since we began taking names and pledges for a waiting list, we have 121 individuals and total pledges of between $561,000 and $762,000.    If you would like to get on our official waiting list, please fill out the form here (make sure to check the “Yes, I am already registered as a ZooShare member” box).

We are currently reviewing and revising the Offering Statement with the intention of renewing it, and at this point, if we decide to sell more bonds, it looks like they will be available in September or October.  Stay tuned for more information on this.

Renewable Energy Approval (REA)

We received the final version of the REA on August 28th.

Digestate (fertilizer) sale/disposal

This past month, we continued to work through the details and terms of our final agreement with Prongineer Ltd regarding the processing of liquid digestate and look forward to getting that done.

Biogas equipment and financing

Over the last 4 weeks, we began to reach out to the different companies that responded to our preliminary request for quotes to ask if they were able to provide further discounts in exchange for marketing profile, and if they had financing packages to offer.  Some have responded already and we are waiting for the others to get back to us, but from our early conversations, the response has been positive and in line with our needs.  We look forward to making decisions in this area in the next 4-8 weeks now that the REA is in hand.

Member update: August 2015

This past month, we made excellent progress in getting the REA and establishing the business case for selling Poo from the Zoo brand fertilizer.  The challenges around securing feedstock remain, however, discussions internally and with our grocery store partners have been engaging and productive, making us confident a deal can get done in the coming months.

Feedstock

Over the last four weeks, we have continued to research and understand the market for organics as well as the constraints of our grocery partners.  This learning lead to ZooShare putting together what we feel is a very strong proposal to supply our biogas plant for the long term, under a flexible pricing mechanism. We had a productive meeting with our partners, where more of the complexities of the relationships involved were discussed, and we can now see a path to getting the contract done.  Our grocery partner remains engaged in our project and in resolving the challenges that have to date stopped us from signing the second feedstock contract, which we are very pleased about.

In addition, we continue discussions with other waste producers and waste management companies, ensuring that ZooShare is able to get the supply it needs for the best possible price.

Bond Sales

Since we began taking names and pledges for a waiting list, we have 108 individuals and total pledges of between $525,000 and $728,000.  If you would like to get on our official waiting list, please fill out the form here (make sure to check the “Yes, I am already registered as a ZooShare member” box).

We are currently reviewing and revising the Offering Statement with the intention of renewing it, and at this point, if we decide to sell more bonds, it looks like they will be available in September or October.  Stay tuned for more information on this.

Renewable Energy Approval (REA)

We were successful in resolving all remaining issues related to stormwater management and the approval process is in the final stages now.  The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is currently preparing a conditions sheet, which will be sent to ZooShare for approval, before the official approval is issued.  At this point, we are about 2-3 weeks away from receiving the REA, which is excellent news.

Digestate (fertilizer) sale/disposal

After working out the revenue sharing agreement last month regarding the fertilizer to be produced from the liquid digestate, this month we worked on figuring out the practical details and steps required to maximize potential revenues from selling solid digestate, or “Poo from the Zoo”.  After speaking to multiple zoos selling composted manure to the public, and some colleagues in the composting industry, we determined the best way for ZooShare to monetize solid digestate is to sell it in bulk directly to consumers from our site.  The details continue to be worked out, but it is looking like we will offer customers the ability to buy Poo from the Zoo by the truckload or by the bag, probably all done during April/May each year.  We will not be purchasing a bagging line and putting the product in garden centres as was the original intention, instead people who want to buy bags will be given a shovel and empty bags to fill up.

Member update: July 2015

Our focus continues to be the same as last month – we are working daily on getting the Renewable Energy Approval and feedstock contract completed as they are essential to our success and we are eager to get started on building the plant.  We have also been investing time and energy into learning more about the fertilizer market so that we can maximize revenues from all possible sources.

Feedstock

When we started this project, we had an agreement that our partner was to supply 14,000 tonnes of waste to us each year. During the fundraising phase, 4,000 tonnes of waste was contracted from corporate stores. We continue to work with our grocery partners on the contract for the remaining 10,000 tonnes. The primary issue contributing to the delay is price – not the availability of waste supply.  At the current time, the commercial organic waste market is constantly evolving – making it difficult for us or our partners to comfortably forecast the value of disposing organic waste. We have now come to the conclusion that we would only be able to sign a long-term supply agreement (our goal) with Loblaws (or any other grocer/waste management company) if there was no fixed price.

We are working on a proposal that would include a formula for a flexible fee, that would fluctuate with the market each year, therefore remaining competitive. We are positive this will yield the desired outcome but are speaking to multiple waste producers and haulers to ensure we have a clear understanding of the market and some alternative options if we are forced to go that route.

Co-op Development & AGM

We hosted the 2015 ZooShare Annual General Meeting on June 11/15 at 401 Richmond St West. The meeting was well attended with 50 members there, all of whom cast votes in the Board elections. It was a good AGM with productive discussions regarding the challenges we still face. All members came at it from a place of trying to gain a deeper understanding of the issues. We elected 3 new directors to the ZooShare Board – Chris Benedetti, Peter Roles and Angela Wallace. Tom Ferencevic is returning for another 2 year term.

After conducting a member/investor survey, which closed in early June, we have been working on a report that ultimately will summarize the key learnings about our membership and the motivations of our target market, should we decide to market and sell additional bonds in the future. (Click here to read a high-level summary of our findings in this month’s Member Spotlight.)

We were also sad to say goodbye to Blair Coutu, who’s contract with ZooShare ended this month.  Blair was a valuable member of our team and played a big role in closing our bond sales as he stepped up to be our Investor Relations Coordinator last September.  We look forward to seeing him accomplish more great things as his career develops.

Bond Sales

Since we began taking names and pledges for a waiting list, we have 102 individuals and total pledges of between $408,000 and $609,000.  If you would like to get on our official waiting list, please fill out the form here (make sure to check the “Yes, I am already registered as a ZooShare member” box). We don’t know for sure if or when we will sell more bonds but the chances are good – stay tuned for more information on this.

Renewable Energy Approval (REA)

Our consultants and technical sub-consultants have been working to address the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)’s concerns about stormwater management. The primary thing they are looking for are additional details on what features we are planning to use to manage stormwater and which guidelines the design adheres to.  We had a very productive meeting with MOECC staff about their specific information needs and concerns last week. This meeting clarified what we need to submit in order to receive our REA. Our consultants will submit these items on our behalf in the next week, and we look forward to getting approval in the coming weeks.  This process has taken longer than we expected, but we are confident it is nearing an end.

Digestate (fertilizer) sale/disposal

We have also been hard at work at building a business case for selling fertilizer (liquid and solid) to help us better understand if and how we can generate sufficient revenues from this activity to support the project.

We finalized the Memorandum of Understanding with Prongineer to process liquid digestate.  The projected revenues from selling the fertilizer products the Prongineer equipment will produce are ~$40,000 per year for the first 6 years, increasing to ~$200,000 per year from that point forward.  This equipment will essentially separate the water from the valuable nutrients in the liquid digestate and allow ZooShare to sell these without needing to transport water around (which is costly).

The recent work is all about maximizing the value we can extract from the solid digestate. Initially we had intended to sell it wholesale for ~$20 per tonne.  From what we’ve learned so far, we can make much more than this by selling directly to consumers through multiple channels. We are looking into purchasing bagging equipment and how we could get “Poo from the Zoo” brand fertilizer in front of consumers (The names “Zoo Poo”, “Zoo Doo” and “Zoo Manoo” are already taken. Got a good name? Let us know!) . If we’re able to sell a bag of solid digestate for a price comparable to cow manure (~$4/bag), potential revenues from this activity could be as much as $500,000. Our initial research has told us we can sell it for a higher price than this, but we are fully investigating the costs associated with this plan and figuring out a way of pre-selling some of the first year’s output to help prove our case to lenders and ourselves.  It is also possible that we further process the solid digestate into a higher value fertilizer product, which can be sold for a much higher price, but would require additional equipment.  At the current time however, this is secondary to proving out the minimum potential revenues from selling bags of Zoo poo.

Member Update: June 2015

Our focus hasn’t shifted much since April – we are working daily on getting the Renewable Energy Approval and feedstock contract completed as they are essential to our success and we are eager to get started on building the plant.

Co-op Development & AGM

In addition to preparing for the AGM, Blair and Frances have put a lot of time and effort into a document we are calling the “Orientation Manual”, a document that lists important lessons and work processes developed over the last 18 months. The Orientation Manual is important for ZooShare’s long term success, as we could use it for future bond campaigns here and in other locations. In addition, we received 110 responses (so far) to our hefty member-survey, which closes on June 5th. The survey will give us a much deeper idea of who you are–our current supporters. This information will be invaluable if or when we decide to raise additional financing from the community.

Bond Sales

After closing bond sales in March, our waiting list is now 92 names long and has at least $392,000 pledged.  If you would like to get on our official waiting list, please fill out the form here. We don’t know for sure if or when we will sell more bonds but the chances are good – stay tuned for more information on this.

Renewable Energy Approval (REA)

Our consultants and technical sub-consultants have been working to address the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)’s concerns about stormwater management. The primary thing they are looking for are additional details on what features we are planning to use to manage stormwater and which guidelines the design adheres to. There was some miscommunication about what they needed to see, and we have now begun the revisions they are looking for. A meeting will be held in the next 2 weeks with MOECC staff to answer any remaining questions.

Feedstock

As you may recall, at the outset of the project, ZooShare secured a Letter of Intent for the full supply of organic waste (14,000 tonnes) with Canada’s largest grocery retailer. Following this, we executed a contract for the first 4,000 tonnes in June 2013 for waste to be supplied from stores equipped with on-site mills (to liquify the waste at the store).  We have been working with our partners on the second contract (for the remaining 10,000 tonnes) as it needs to come from a different part of the company since not all stores are equipped with the mills.

As mentioned last month, we continue to work with our grocery partners and their waste management companies to sort out the logistics and pricing of a deal that satisfies all parties.  We have also been speaking to other potential suppliers to gain a better understanding of the make-up and value of the alternative options.  Our primary goal continues to be signing a deal with our existing partners, and we are hopeful to getting it done in the coming weeks.

Digestate (fertilizer) sale/disposal

We came to a revenue sharing agreement in principle with the company that will process our liquid digestate over the month and are looking to close the deal in the next month if possible.  We also put an agreement in front of the nearby farmer for his review and feedback and expect to get it done in a similar time frame.

Regarding the solid digestate (Poo from the Zoo brand fertilizer), we are working to quantify and prove how much this product could be worth if sold directly by ZooShare to customers, as this approach would generate greater profits compared to selling it wholesale to our grocery partners as we originally planned.

Events

Given our reduced need to put ourselves out there and sell bonds, event attendance have been scaled back in the recent weeks.  In May, we participated in the Kids’ World of Energy Fesitval, put on by our friends at TREC Education at the Evergreen Brickworks.  Over the course of the 4 day festival, about 2,500 kids (of all ages) learned about the intricacies of different types of renewable power production (including biogas) and the importance of conservation.

Zoo-biogas is heating up!

After reaching out to 10 different US-based zoos with an introductory email, we had deeper conversations with zoos in Honolulu, LA, Washington DC and Buffalo about their constraints and needs.  Thus far, physical space seems to be the biggest constraint as most zoos are located in urban parklands without any space to expand zoo operations.  We are continuing to speak to them about alternative, smaller scale approaches to biogas and have submitted a proposal to one of the zoos already. More info will become available as this pursuit progresses.

Member Update: May 2015

Last month we continued to prepare for construction of our biogas plant – clarifying remaining questions and concerns related to permits; working through the logistics of organic waste supplies; solidifying our fertilizer plans; and articulating our specific requirements to be included in the construction contract.

Co-op Development & AGM

At the end of the first quarter we began planning for the 2015 ZooShare Annual General Meeting – more news about this will coming to the inbox of members in the next 7-10 days.

Bond Sales

We closed our offering once we reached the $2.2 million target – which only served to increase market demand for ZooShare bonds.  Since we began taking names and pledges for a waiting list, we have 82 people and at least $375,000 committed if ZooShare opens up the investment opportunity further. If you would like to get on our official waiting list, please fill out the form here. Make sure to check the “Yes, I’m already registered as a member” box to avoid filling in information you already sent to us.

Renewable Energy Approval (REA)

We had 3 calls with reviewers from the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and also hosted them, together with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, at the site of our biogas plant in order to give everyone a clearer idea of how our plans will environmentally affect the site.  Discussions continue to be open and productive, and many of the questions at this stage seem to be about clarifying details rather than larger questions requiring further studies.  We believe we are still on track to receive our REA by the end of May, however, the ball is in the Ministry’s court for now and we continue to work with them to ensure a timely approval.

Feedstock

As you may recall, at the outset of the project, ZooShare secured a Letter of Intent for the full supply of organic waste (14,000 tonnes) with Canada’s largest grocery retailer. Following this, we executed a contract for the first 4,000 tonnes in June 2013 for waste to be supplied from stores equipped with on-site mills (to liquify the waste at the store).  We have been working with our partners on the second contract (for the remaining 10,000 tonnes) as it needs to come from a different part of the company since not all stores are equipped with the mills. Complicating the situation somewhat is that there is a different waste management company contracted to pick-up and manage these organics, meaning more players at the negotiating table. Furthermore, the organic waste market in Ontario is quickly evolving, slowing down each party’s ability to forecast future prices for transporting and processing waste. This past month, we continued to meet with and talk through the remaining issues with our partners so that we can execute the second contract, which is a pre-requisite to ZooShare initiating construction of the facility.

Digestate (fertilizer) sale/disposal

Digestate is the nutrient-rich substance produced by our biogas plant that can be used as a fertilizer. The digestate is a slurry when it first comes out of the biogas plant, containing both liquid and solid components. The solids are what we have proposed to put in bags and sell back to you and other gardeners. For the last 9 months, we have been working on ways to maximize the value of the liquid component and reduce the transportation costs. We have made good progress on two fronts: 1. A farmer nearby the Zoo has expressed tentative interest in taking the digestate for his crops, which would mean zero cost for disposal but also zero revenues; 2. A memorandum of understanding is in place with a BC-based technology company that can provide equipment to ZooShare that would process the liquid into concentrated fertilizer and clean water. This technology would have no up-front cost to ZooShare but would require sharing of revenues until the technology is paid off, approximately 6 years.  We are hopeful that option 2 will work out as it will mean greater revenues for the project, but are planning on option 1 to be conservative.

Events and Media

The media loves you as much as they love Zoo poo!  In March, the media was excited to share the news that together, we raised $2.2M. Since then, we have also had interviews PRI World, BioCycle Magazine and the writer of an accounting textbook for 1st-year university students, who is featuring ZooShare as a business case for alternative financing methods.

We also attended Earth Day at the Zoo and Earth Week in the financial district, as well as having a booth in the Social Enterprise Zone at the OCE Discovery Conference.

Zoo-biogas is heating up!

In early April, our two student-interns from Seneca College submitted their final report on the biogas prospects of 10 zoos based in the United States. Their report examined the feasibility of creating similar-sized biogas plants like the one we’re building here in Toronto. The report will allow us to confidently approach other Zoos in the US to discuss potential partnership. Initial introductory emails have already been sent to the 10 zoos identified in the study, and we look forward to providing future updates on this pursuit.

We also recently connected with the Detroit Zoo, which has initiated a biogas project of their own.  The Detroit project differs from ours in that they are only digesting zoo manure and waste produced at the Zoo, and the power will not be sold to the grid, but instead used for internal operations.  We’re very excited that the market is developing and interest is growing.

Member Update: April 2015

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We SOLD OUT of bonds! We are still taking pledges from people who would like to be added to our Waiting List, should we decide to raise additional financing. Click here to join our waiting list (make sure to click “I’m already a member”). Hurry–the waiting list is first-come, first-serve.

We are also excited to share that we have received our Connection Impact Assessment (CIA) from Toronto Hydro! This confirms ZooShare’s space on the Ontario grid, allowing us to sell the power we produce each year.

We expect to receive our Renewable Energy Approval (REA) from the Ministry of the Environment in May. In a recent interview, the Ministry said “We expect to make a decision on the application shortly.”

Bond Showcase

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Thank you to everyone who came out to the Community Bond Showcase on March 19th. This was the first collaborative event between ZooShare, SolarShare and the Centre for Social Innovation. You can read more about the event courtesy of the OurPower blog, or check out these photos.

Member Update: WE SOLD OUT!

It’s time to celebrate! With your help, we have reached our goal of raising $2.2 million!

The demand for bonds was so strong that we sold out before the anticipated date of March 31st.

We already have a waiting list of individuals who want to invest if we decide to raise additional funds. Get yourself on the waiting list by clicking here then check the box “I’m a member”.

Here’s a toast to you:
Toast IMG_20150316_123758Thank you again to each of you, for your faith in our vision, for sharing our story with your friends and family, and for being a part of ZooShare.

Cheers!

Daniel, Frances & Blair

The ZooShare Team

PS Come celebrate with us at this Thursday at the Community Bond Showcase! Reserve a ticket or get on the waiting list by clicking here. VIP ZooShare tickets include a free drink! (If you reserved tickets for the Community Bond Showcase but can no longer attend, please release your tickets via these simple steps.) Your fellow members will thank you!

PPS Share the good news:

 

Member Update: March 2015

Well–after a bitter cold snap it seems like winter is coming to an end…Just like our bond sales! We have now raised over 1.8 MILLION and we expect to close the offering by March 31st. Here’s our most recent news:

Project Updates

– ZooShare now has 370 members and has raised $1.86 in Community Bonds!
– We are expecting to receive our Connection Impact Assessment from Toronto Hydro soon
– We hope to receive our Renewable Energy Approval from the Ministry of the Environment by May 25th
– We presented at the Toronto Zoo Board meeting in February regarding amending project milestone dates
– We applied for a $20,000 grant from the Co-operators through their CDP grant program.
– 2 Seneca College Non-profit Leadership students are expected to finish a ZooShare feasibility study in April
– We Continue to explore different technologies and methods for processing digestate into higher value products
– We made presentations to Monitor Deloitte, the SouthBrook Retirement Community, & Amica Balmoral Club
(If you know of other community groups who would appreciate learning more about ZooShare, email Frances.)

Did you get a T5?

All ZooShare members should have received their T5s. If you haven’t, please email Frances. (Unless you specified that you wanted your T5 mailed, you should have received an email from “trecservices” entitled “ZooShare 2014 Tax Information”. Please check your junk/spam folder before emailing us.)

Bullfrog Power

Bullfrog Power is Canada’s leading green energy provider, one of our initial Founders Club investors, our official Education Sponsor and recently invested an additional $125,000! Daniel said: “We are extremely pleased that Bullfrog Power continues to support our vision. Bullfrog Power’s leadership in the community power sector has been invaluable in getting our project and programs off the ground and we are grateful for this additional investment, which comes at a pivotal point in our fund raising process.” Read more here.

Toronto Hydro

ZooShare is pleased to announce that Toronto Hydro has come on board as our 1st Community Partner! Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages, together we will be spreading the word about ZooShare and Toronto Hydro’s conservation programs and how they can benefit you. For now, check out this awesome Energy Conservation Handbook.