Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions? We’ve got answers. Here are some of the most common inquiries we receive about solar energy, investing, and getting involved with SPICE.
SPICE has a very specific offer in the renewable energy landscape that differentiates us from all other market players in Edmonton.
We are not competing with installers offering residential solar systems or developers of large scale ground mounted systems. Instead we are aiming to facilitate solar projects that would otherwise not be happening because of a lack of knowledge, manpower, money or other resources.
SPICE’s role is to be a facilitator for community solar projects. We offer turn-key solutions including feasibility check, project development, financing and realization of community solar systems.
We are not installing the systems ourselves but are working with trusted partners in the implementation. The biggest difference to other solar energy providers is the fact that we are a cooperative and are governed by our membership, our Articles of Incorporation and our Bylaws.
With this, any earnings we have will always be reinvested into our mission with a focus on environmental and social benefits.
Most important in the selection of our partners – besides their solar knowledge and professionality – are to have shared values. We preferably work with local contractors who adhere to the same social procurement standards as we do.
It is part of your vision to enable our partners to train individuals with barriers to employment on the job and transition them into sustained employment on a steady funnel of community solar projects facilitated by SPICE.
We aim to facilitate the change to renewable energy by enabling every individual to be a part of this – as an investor, as a community member, or as someone seeking employment in the industry.
We want to make solar visible in our communities and educate about the benefits of it while reducing our carbon footprint by installing as much solar as we can.
You can support us by talking to us and talking about us! If you are not sure what we offer and if this is relevant to you, talk to us. If you think what we do is worth sharing, tell your friends, tell your communities and help us enlarge our audience!
SPICE has developed a best practices document that guides us as we develop our project targets. Together with the community partners, we are establishing measurable environmental, social and community benefits and the corresponding key performance indicators to transparently document the impact and sustainability of our projects.
SPICE follows the seven Cooperative principles https://www.acca.coop/co-op-principles .
We believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others and our planet. As a democratically organized Cooperative we enable our members, investors and community partners to gain first hand experiences with a different economical concept and are hoping that this may foster change towards a different mindset in our local economy.
As part of giving form to our commitment to social responsibility, we are certified as a social enterprise by Buy Social Canada. Very practically, this includes commitments such as always reinvesting at least 50% of all profits into our mission.
If you are interested in getting involved, you are always welcome – regardless of your ability to contribute financially. As we are mainly powered by volunteers, there is usually lots to do. Please contact us directly and tell us which skills and availability you can offer and we will find out how you can best help us to further develop SPICE.
There have been several media outlets covering our development and projects in the past. We usually share the link to these stories as well as to stories of our partners in our Blog and Newsletter. Projects currently under development will be shared here on our webpage as soon as we can disclose information on them.
Member / Investor FAQs
Anyone who is an individual 18 years or older and not an undischarged bankrupt can apply for a membership with SPICE by simply using our online membership application. In becoming a member, you purchase a Class A membership share for $50, which buys you a lifetime membership with SPICE. Once you are a member, you can participate in shaping the organization and invest into our Share Offerings.
The current minimum investment in our Class B Investment share Offering is 10 Shares for $100 each, which equals a minimum investment of $1000. There is no defined maximum investment amount per investor, but this Share Offering is capped at $250,000.
The term of the investment into Class B Investment Shares is 11 years. Beginning in year 2025 in respect for the 2024 year-end, the Board of Directors will annually declare a dividend which is targeted to be competitive with comparable TSE-Index dividend yield (currently around 3%). Beginning in year four until year eleven, the invested capital will be returned to the investor.
SPICE shares are not transferable or traded on a recognized stock exchange. For details on our Class B Investment Share Offering and the potential risks in investing, please contact us directly to receive and we will send you our exhaustive Offering Information.
At this time in the Class B Share Offering, investments are pooled and released into projects the Board of Directors has decided to pursue. We are planning to add the option to invest into a different Share Classes dedicated to specific projects in the future.
The money our investors invest with us is held in trust until we have developed a Community Solar project and raised sufficient funds to realize it. For each project, the Board of Directors conducts a Due Dilligence before granting approval and releasing the funds to build and operate the Solar system for the Community partner.
If we are not successful in finding communities to partner with for new projects, or potential projects proof to be not viable for various reasons or if we are not able to raise sufficient funds to realize a project, the investment held in trust will be returned to the investors.
At this time we do not offer RRSP eligible Investments or other tax benefits for our investors. We are working on implementing this in the future.
As a cooperative, we are working democratically. Every member is invited to join our annual general meeting and vote on all issues the Board of Directors presents (for specifics see our Articles and Bylaws). If a member would like to participate in the development of SPICE more directly, it is always an option to run for a position on the Board or volunteer on a committee!
We are always sharing as much information as possible about the projects we are funding. While projects are still in the development phase, they will usually not be made public until a Memorandum of Understanding is signed by all project partners.
Project Partner Community FAQs
The most important criteria is to have space for a solar system, ideally on a roof. In the first viability check, we will look at the details of your building and roof as well as your power consumption and decide from there if a further project development makes sense.
Every project starts with a conversation. If there is serious interest to explore solar options, our next step is a viability check where we look at your site and power bill and then discuss with you if a project is technically and economically feasible for you. If you decide to go ahead, we will sign a Letter of Intent and develop the project with all critical parameters such as system design, choice of contractor, lease conditions etc.
In parallel we will work with your community on defining the community benefits this project will bring. Once everything is settled and a Memorandum of Understanding is signed, we start the communication and fundraising for the project and get all contracts ready to go. With sufficient funds and everything else in place, the last step is the installation of your solar array.
Any community organization that owns a building and uses power in that building can apply to become a project partner. We are not limited to non-for-profits or charities, but work with any community or corporation that is sharing our values regarding our environmental and social responsibilities.
There are no upfront costs to starting into the project development for a solar system with SPICE. The only thing we need from a community is the willingness to provide information and the availability of the decision makers for conversations. If a project is technically and financially viable, we work together to design a lease and operating model that fits the community’s situation.
The project duration depends a lot on how quickly data can be supplied and decisions can be made by the community. Starting with the initial conversation, project development can be done as quickly as a few weeks and the installation to completion can be done within a month given materials and contractors are available and the weather is playing along. In reality projects often take a bit longer mostly due to resource limitations all partners are experiencing.
The installation of the project itself only takes a week or two for getting the modules and electrical in place. Together with our contractors, we strive to make this exciting time as smooth and short as possible.
Following that, a final inspection is conducted before the system can go live and you can start using the power coming off your roof. In our Design-Build-Lease Model SPICE owns the system for the duration of the lease term while your community gets to harvest the full benefits from it. Therefore our interest in a smooth installation process and operation is just as big as yours.
We use the huge amount of knowledge about Solar that we have in our organization to ensure that every project is well planned, realized and maintained. In our choice of contractors, we pay close attention to their knowledge and experience in Solar and always conduct our own inspection of the work done. We work together with the contractors in the sourcing decisions to make sure the modules, inverters and other materials in use meet our quality and social sourcing standards.
In order to keep our project development costs reasonable, our main focus is Edmonton and the surrounding area. This includes any community within a 2 hour drive of Edmonton. However, there is no strict boundary to where we can do projects as long as it is in Alberta.
If your community’s energy usage significantly changes in the years to come, that may impact the economics of your project. With our detailed project calculation model, we are able to simulate various scenarios that you may consider possible in our project development phase. This way we can give you as much peace of mind for your decision as possible.
Part of our project development process is to engage with the community to design the community benefits of the project. Once we know the project is generally viable and we have signed a letter of intent, we will hold a design charrette workshop with the community members and work together to frame a community benefits statement. This includes commitments of all partners and measurements for the benefits over the project lifecycle.