Having an impact with your portfolio:

You have questions and we have the answers.



Please note that we have simplified many of the answers to help you better understand our securities. In all cases, investors should review our Offering Statement which provides all material facts relating to the offering of the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative’s securities.

General Information

What is impact investing?

Impact investing describes a strategy of investing in companies that generate positive social and environmental benefits in addition to financial gain.

Are ethical mutual funds considered an impact investment?

Ethical mutual funds and other similar types of securities fall into the category of responsible investing.

Investing with the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative

How does the Co-operative work?

The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative finances solar, wind, and energy efficiency projects in Eastern and Southwestern Ontario by selling Preference Shares and Investment Notes. OREC owns or co-owns the project or leases them to project hosts. To date, all of the Co-operative’s projects are backed by 10, 20 or 30-year contracts which provide a set rate for every kilowatt hour generated or saved. Steady, predictable revenue streams from these projects are used to pay back investing members in the form of a dividend or interest. A thorough due diligence process is undertaken before the Co-operative decides to purchase or build a new project. Please consult our Offering Statement for details on our standard due diligence processes. Browse our website to learn about the types of investment products we offer and learn about the projects that are currently generating revenue as well as those that are about to become part of OREC’s portfolio.

What types of investments does OREC offer?

The Co-operative makes available Preference Shares and Investment Notes to the general public on regular basis. Preference Shares provide investors a variable annual dividend over 10 or 20 years to members.  Any resident of Eastern Ontario and selected counties in Southwestern Ontario can become a member of the Co-operative by purchasing a $100 lifetime membership share.  Our memberships provide other neat benefits, too. Investment Notes provide a fixed 3% interest paid annually and are available to all members as well. While these securities are offered in series to finance new projects, investors become co-owners of the Co-operative’s entire project portfolio.

Who can invest?

Individuals must become a member of the Co-operative before investing. A lifetime membership can be purchased for $100 at any time.

The Co-operative offers investment opportunities to individuals at a minimum of $2,500, depending on availability. Our current investing members include retirees looking to diversify their portfolio, millennials making their first investment, and everyone in between.

How does OREC generate revenue?

Revenue is generated by our local solar power project portfolio.  For 18 of our projects, every kWh produced is sold to either Hydro Ottawa or Hydro One at a fixed rate for 20 years. These projects are backed by 20-year Feed-in Tariff contracts.

The Co-operative also has a handful of projects that employ net metered solar. Revenue is generated from these as the Co-operative sells electricity generated by solar to the property where the project is located. To mitigate risk, OREC partners primarily with institutions, public entities, and municipalities.

What are the administrative and project operation costs?

Administrative costs include legal, accounting and regulatory costs and normally account for 5-10% of full year revenue.  Project operation costs include insurance, maintenance, roof/land rental, and contingency and range from 10-15% of full year project revenue. Project development costs are capitalized in the total cost of the project. 

How does OREC cover the costs of project development and raising capital?

A small percentage (about 5%) of capital raised from preference share offerings is set aside to cover these expenses. They are not paid out of revenue.

Investing in OREC Preference Shares

Who can invest in OREC Preference Shares?

Preference Shares are available to any resident of Eastern Ontario or selected Southern Ontario regions where OREC has projects, at a minimum of $2,500. A membership in the Co-operative is required to purchase Preference Shares.   Members can purchase Preference Shares when the Co-operative has an open investment offering.  However, a lifetime membership can be purchased for $100 at the same time as Preference Shares. Our current members holding Preference Shares include retirees looking to diversify their portfolio, millennials making their first investment, and everyone in between.

Is there a minimum investment?

The minimum investment amount in OREC Preference Shares $2,500.  As all Class A and Class B Preference Shares are valued at $500, new investors must purchase at least five shares. For members looking to invest through an RRSP or TFSA, the minimum investment starts at $5,000.  Thus, new investors must purchase at least 10 shares valued at $500 each. Thereafter, investors can purchase as little as one additional share for $500.

What kind of return will I earn with OREC Preference Shares?

Over the past five years, Preference Share holders have received an average annual dividend payment of 3.5%, though this is by no means a guarantee.

How and when will I see my returns on my Preference Share investment?

All Class A and Class B Preference Share holders receive the same dividend at the same time as all investors, regardless of the series in which shares were issued. Dividends are issued at least once annually (typically in the late fall or early winter) based upon the residual share value at the time.  All investors receive an investor statement when a dividend has been issued.  Statements are emailed or mailed depending on the investor’s preference at the time of subscription. For unregistered shares, dividend payments will be deposited directly into the bank account on file or a cheque will be mailed to the address on file, again depending on the investor’s preference at the time of subscription.  In February, a T5 is issued for income tax purposes which are either emailed or mailed based on the information on file. For shares held within an RRSP or TFSA dividends are held as cash within the account until the holder purchases additional shares (when available) transfers the cash to another RRSP (fees may apply) or withdraws said cash (fees may apply).

How and when will my capital be returned?

With the Co-operative’s Class A Preference Shares, capital is returned annually commencing in year six of the 20-year term by redeeming shares at a rate of 1/15 the original investment, with all shares redeemed and capital returned by the end of the 20th year. Because shares are redeemed at their par (face) value there is no capital gain or loss, and there is no need to maintain an Adjusted Cost Base. The capital will be paid out as cash. Each time that shares are redeemed the new share balance will be reflected in the member’s annual statement.

Beginning in 2018-19, the Co-operative is also offering Class B Preference Shares. More details on the capital return of these shares will be made available soon.

Are dividends cumulative?

No, dividends on OREC Preference Share are non-cumulative. Each year’s dividend is based on a member’s residual share balance.

How are dividends treated for tax purposes?

OREC Preference Shares dividends qualify for the basic tax credit but are ineligible for an “enhanced” tax credit.  You will receive a T5 for every tax year that sets out your dividend information for the year in the “other than eligible” boxes:  total dividends for the year (Box 10), the grossed-up taxable amount  (Box 11), and your tax credit (Box 12).

Can OREC preference shares be held in an RRSP or TFSA?

Yes. Members can purchase OREC preference shares as part of their annual RRSP or TFSA contribution. Shares can also be purchased with a transfer from another RRSP or TFSA. Read the FAQ section that specifically addresses investments through an RRSP and TFSA below.

Are owners of preference shares liable for any other costs in the case of bankruptcy?

No, only the value of the residual share balance. OREC has Directors and Officers, Liability, and Equipment Insurance.

Will investment opportunities be available each year?

It is OREC’s intention to have new projects and share offerings each year, but this is not guaranteed and is dependent on project availability, energy policy, and Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) approval.

Can my dividend be paid in shares rather than cash?

Not currently, however, we are working on creating an option for members to be paid in OREC shares rather than cash.  Previous investors will always have the option to purchase as little as one share for $500 when Preference Shares are available.

Can shares be sold or traded?

There is no market mechanism for selling shares.  However, shares are transferable among existing and new investors.  OREC has facilitated several dozen transfers to date at no cost to the seller or buyer.  The Board of Director may consider buying back shares if there is sufficient cash flow at the time of request.

What happens if OREC is dissolved?

In the very unlikely situation that OREC dissolved, each member’s preference share value would be based upon how much of their capital had been returned to date.  Capital is returned annually commencing in  year six of the 20-year term by redeeming shares at a rate of 1/15 the original investment, with all shares redeemed and capital returned by the end of the 20th year.

What happens to the investment if the member dies?

Membership shares will lapse on the death of the member. The value of outstanding preference shares will be paid back to the Estate.  Dividends would be paid as appropriate based on the outstanding capital.  The executor also has the option of transferring existing shares to a different co-op member.

What happens to my shares if I move out of Ontario?

Because of rules governing ownership of renewable energy projets in Ontario you will be able to maintain any purchased securities but your membership in OREC will be closed and your membership share redemmed. This unfortunately means that you will no longer have voting rights and you will not be able to purchase new securities.

Investing through an RRSP or TFSA

What are the RRSP options?
OREC Preference Shares can be held inside of a self directed RRSP Plan offered through the Canadian Workers Co-operative Federation (CWCF) or through Caldwell Securities Ltd.

A $55 annual fee is charged for each registered account you hold with CWCF, which can be automatically deducted from your dividend payment. A $65 annual fee is charged for each registered account you hold with Caldwell, which can be automatically deducted from your dividend payment.

Members may purchase shares within their annual RRSP Deduction Limit or transfer funds in from another RRSP to purchase shares. Finally, a member may buy preference shares outside of an RRSP and then decide to put them in their self-directed RRSP in a subsequent year. Members may also purchase shares within a RRSP spousal account. Investors are only taxed on the income earned when they choose to withdraw money from the RRSP tax shield.

What are the TFSA options?
OREC Preference shares can be held inside of a TFSA offered through the Canadian Workers Co-operative Federation (CWCF) or through Caldwell Securities Ltd.

A $55 annual fee is charged for each registered account you hold with CWCF, which can be automatically deducted from your dividend payment. A $65 annual fee is charged for each registered account you hold with Caldwell, which can be automatically deducted from your dividend payment.

Members may purchase shares within their annual TFSA limit or transfer funds in from another TFSA to purchase shares. Finally, a member may buy preference shares outside of a TFSA and then decide to put them in their self-directed TFSA in a subsequent year. Dividends earned on shares inside the TFSA are not taxed.

What happens when my RRSP matures at 71 years of age?



According to rules set out by the Canada Revenue Agency, your RRSP holdings must be converted to a RRIF, annuity, or paid out in a lump sum by the end of the calendar year that you turn age 71.

OREC members holding preference shares have three options: Option 1: Transfer the shares into a RRIF with an eligible institution, an option that is not readily available but will likely be in the next couple of years. Option 2: Withdraw shares from the RRSP, pay income tax on the withdrawn amount, and maintain the now unregistered shares in OREC. Option 3: Sell shares back to OREC or another member, transfer the funds out of CWCF to an RRSP account at another institution that can convert the funds into a RRIF. On the other hand, cash accumulated from dividends and return of capital in your OREC RRSP can be transferred to a RRIF account with another institution as described above.

If you are a member holding OREC Preference Shares within an RRSP and you are turning 71 soon, please contact an OREC staff member as soon as possible.

What is the recommended preference share investment to hold in an RRSP or TFSA?

The minimum purchase within a registered account is $5,000.  We recommended investing at least $10,000 in order to offset the annual account fees charged by CWCF ($55) or Caldwell Securities Ltd. ($65) to the account holder.

What are my options when dividends are issued or capital is returned within a registered account?

When the Co-operative issues a dividend or returns a portion of your share capital, a cheque is sent directly to CWCF or Caldwell (depending on who is holding your account) and deposited into your account.  That money is considered “cash” in your account behind the tax shield but it is not earning a return. The options available to you depend on the financial institution holding your investments.

Your options with CWCF are to:

  1. Continue earning a return by purchasing as little as one share for $500 (when available) without incurring fees.  You can top up by making a new contribution to your account in the event that you do not have $500 in your account.
  2. Purchase shares in other co-operatives that employ the services of CWCF.  Contact CWCF for a list of such options.
  3. Make a partial withdrawal from you CWCF account.  You will be charged $50 by CWCF for this option and you will be required to claim the withdrawal as income for that taxation year.

To withdraw funds your CWCF account, you will need to make a request, in writing, to the Canadian Workers Co-operative Federation (CWCF) who administers your self-directed account. This request needs to include your name, account number, current mailing address and the amount you wish to withdraw. You should also state you are aware of the required Canadian Revenue Agency withholding tax as well as the CWCF withdraw fee ($50 partial withdraw/$75 to close your account) which will be taken from the amount you are requesting prior to the cheque being sent to you. Questions can be directed to: Josh Dyke, RRSP Program Manager #1 – 41 Aberdeen St., Kentville, NS B4N 2M9 Tel: 902-678-1683 Email: josh@canadianworker.coop Website: www.canadianworker.coop

Can I transfer the cash in my CWCF account to a registered account held by another institution?

Yes. Have the other institution complete a ‘Transfer Out’ form (T2033) to request the amount of cash you are looking to transfer out. Upon receiving this request, CWCF will process it and forward the amount to the other institution.

Investment through Investment Notes

What are Investment Notes?

They are five-year unsecured loans to OREC with a guaranteed annual interest rate of 3% paid on the anniversary of the date of issue. The original investment (principal) is returned five years from the date of issue.  The minimum investment is $5,000 and must be purchased in increments of $500.

Who can purchase Investment Notes

Investment Notes are available to OREC members.

When will Investment Notes be available?

If you are interested in investing through Investment Notes, please fill out this form. You will be contacted when Investment Notes become available.  This new approach of offering Investment Notes on an as-needed basis helps to maximize the Co-operative’s earning potential.

Can Investment Notes be held in an RRSP or TFSA?

No. Only OREC Preference Shares can be held in an RRSP or TFSA.

OREC’s Projects

How does snow affect the production of the Co-operative's projects?

Snowfall and snow coverage is a significant factor when it comes to solar power. With that said, the Eastern Ontario region is a very viable region for solar production, with more than adequate levels of solar irradiance annually. When developing projects, the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative has followed the industry trends for rooftop solar, maximizing summer production while seeking to keep installation costs and building impact low. This, however, means that production during the winter months can be marginal.

The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative evaluates every potential project prior to beginning the construction process. As an innovative organization at the forefront of solar development in the region, we are always looking to develop more accurate and robust models for solar production in Eastern Ontario. Region-specific research was limited prior to the Co-operative’s early installations.

In March of 2018, it came to the attention of the Board of Directors that the modelling for some of the projects in the Co-operative’s portfolio underestimated the impact that snow coverage would have on existing project generation. This new information has been taken into account for all projects under construction. Fortunately, the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative included a contingency line in its 2017-18 budget to account for unknown situations, thus spring/summer solar production is as expected, this will not bear a significant impact on returns to investors. Financial models moving forward will be adjusted to account for this new information.

What are the warranties on the projects?

This is dependent on the panels and inverters installed; panels are typically warranted for 20 years and inverters between 5 and 20 years. The installation is normally warranted for 1 year.

What is the process for renting roof space and re-roofing?

OREC signs a 20 year roof lease agreement with owner of the building on which our projects are installed, including roof rental fee. If roofs need to be re-roofed within the 20 year contract, the agreement includes a re-roofing clause under which the panels can be removed for a few days for the work to be done.

What happens to the panels and revenue after the 20 years?

It is impossible to predict the energy policy that will exist at that point, but the most likely is that the electricity will be sold to the grid at the retail rate, this is known as net-metering. The building owners will be given the first right to purchase out the panels at a price negotiated at that time.

How does the joint ownership of OREC's FIT projects work?

OREC and our partners sign joint venture agreements that set out the equity that each partner has in the project and the insurance, maintenance, management and other costs that will be incurred and shared. under the current FIT rules a project that has greater than 51% ownership by a co-op like OREC is given priority access for FIT contracts. The revenue from the project is shared according each partners equity stake once all project expenses have been paid. The FIT contract is owned in the name of the Joint Venture.

Net Metering

What is net metering?
Net metering allows you to install solar panels on your roof or property for your self-consumption. It is the next step in the evolution of Ontario’s solar market.
How does net metering work?
Electricity generated by a solar array is used by the property its built on. It allows consumers to produce power; for their own consumption. During the summer, when an array produces more power than the property uses, the excess power is sent to grid, and in return the property receives credits based on the value of that electricity. These credits can then be used at night or during the winter when days are shorter.
What is the cost of the solar system?
The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative can finance the project through investments from its members. To date, we have financed 17 projects (as part of the Feed-in Tariff program) in Eastern Ontario entirely through member investment.
How long can generation credits be kept for?
Generation credits must be used within 11 months from when they are generated.
What is the minimum roof or property size for net metering?
The minimum space required for the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative to finance a solar array is 10,000 square feet.
Who are the Co-operative's ideal clients?

Institutional buildings, where ownership is not likely to change over the course of the 20-year power purchase agreement. These are properties like community centres, museums, government buildings, schools, and churches. Ideally, these institutions have a significant energy demand in the summer months, when solar energy production is at its peak.

How much does this cost?

The only costs you will incur as a property owner are a setup charge ($30), a monthly service charge ($19/month) and, in some circumstances, an administration charge. The Co-operative is able to fully finance the cost of equipment, labour, and onngoing monitoring and maintenance through its unique solar equipment lease approach.

Will this impact my fixed or demand charges?

Net metering credits can only be applied to the per-kilowatt-hour charge on your bill, unless peak occurs when the sun is shining.

What kind of contract is involved in net metering?

Net metered solar projects can be installed, owned and operated by a third party, in this case the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative. The Co-operative has designed a unique Solar Equipment Lease approach that allows these projects to go forward. Contact OREC to learn more.

What would I save on my monthly bill?
This varies from property to property, however, our modelling shows an average cost saving of 7-15% per year. Cost savings are divided with the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative. We use our portion of these cost savings to pay back our investors.
What are the risks associated with installation?
The Co-operative takes on the risks of installation, including insurance.
Would this reduce my carbon footprint?
Yes! While you are not able to claim the renewable carbon certificates (RECs), our modelling shows a reduction of over 25 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. This amounts to a reduction of over 500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetime of the contract.
What if I have to fix my roof while the solar panels are on the roof?
Your roof should be in good condition before array. The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative will perform an assessment to determine the viability of your roof for a solar array.
Will the solar panels damage my roof?
No. The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative installs panels at a 10ᵒ slope, so roof-penetrating anchors are not required. Panels will be weighed down to ensure safety.
Where do you get your solar panels from?
We purchase our panels from Canadian Solar. Their headquarters are in Guelph, and they produce their panels in Canada and China.
Could this be installed on a residential home?
Installing solar panels on residential homes is not cost-effective for the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-operative. We do encourage residents of Eastern Ontario to become members of the Co-operative, and to invest in net metered projects. Learn more.
How do we get started?

You will need to provide us with recent data of your energy consumption – ideally, hourly utility data for the most recent full year. If you don’t have that, we can also work off of your hydro bills. Contact OREC to get started.

Is this part of the FIT program?

No. The Feed-In Tariff (FIT) program is no longer available. It was cancelled in 2018. Existing FIT contracts are honored. Net metering is separate from the Feed-In Tariff program. This is the next step in Ontario’s energy transition.

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Last updated: May 2021