Case Study 

ZooShare Co-operative    

Project Type: Biogas

Applicant: Toronto Zoo Biogas

Grants Awarded:  $115,476

Project Size:  500 kW

Status:  Project development stage

In 2009, Toronto Zoo staff started discussing how they might make use of the Zoo animal manure.  In the context of their energy and conservation strategy, the Zoo began to attract interest with this multi-beneficial idea of using their waste to both produce energy, fertilizer and heat; energy through an anaerobic digester and its output, a liquid and solid fertilizer product, cleverly named “ZooPoo”.

The Toronto Zoo’s preliminary Request For Proposal (RFP) process was originally for a 5 MW project, later considered to be too ambitious in the first phase.  In the process of scaling the project down to 500 kW, the five founding partners, a highly experienced group of consulting engineers and renewable energy project developers were brought together in a joint venture partnership to initiate project development of a new biogas facility. After considering a limited partnership, it was clear that a not-for-profit, co-operative model best suited the project and the working relationship of the founding partners.

The Community Energy Partnership Program grant that the project received “has been instrumental to the project at an early stage” said Christine Koenig, a managing partner at Koenig and Consultants, one of the founding partners.  A commitment to the community power model has defined this project, explains Christine, “we wanted to create a lighthouse model and get buy-in from as many people as possible through financial engagement.” Community support for this project is growing everyday through the ZooShare website, its facebook and twitter appearances and a  pre-offering investment call.

Amid municipal and provincial elections and several changes in political leadership in the past two years, the ZooShare team has persisted through a great deal of uncertainty. The project recently received approval from a subcommittee of council, the Zoo’s management board, to move forward with development of the project.

At least 1000 people will eventually finance and invest in the project through community bonds.  This finance model was selected to spread out risk as most of the upfront project management costs to date have been incurred or provided in-kind by the founding partners.  Bonds $5,000 or higher are RRSP eligible and will create a sound investment opportunity for individuals interested in realizing a green, community power project.

This project has received funding support from the Ontario Power Authority through the Community Energy Partnerships Program. Such support does not indicate endorsement by the Ontario Power Authority or the Province of Ontario of the contents of this material. The views expressed in the material are the views of the Recipient and do not necessarily reflect those of the Ontario Power Authority or the Province of Ontario.

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