Vancity Community Investment Bank has announced plans to acquire CoPower Inc., a Toronto-based green financing platform that offers green bonds to investors with as little as C$5,000 to spend.
The deal gives CoPower access to a pool of a half-million potential customers through one of the country’s biggest credit unions, National Observer reports, while helping Vancity expand its sustainable financing operations.
“When the opportunity came up to acquire (CoPower), we thought, ‘Wow, we get the instant team, we get the brand recognition, we get the great work they’ve done on the bond platform.’ It fits within the sphere of the things that we are looking to do in the bank,” VCIB CEO Jay-Ann Gilfoy told Observer. “It just seemed like a natural sort of extension of what we were already doing.”
“Vancity is similarly focused on using finance to solve big problems,” said CoPower co-founder David Berliner. “We’ll be able to do a lot more, faster.”
While CoPower has raised and invested about $30 million across more than 1,100 projects, Observer notes that Vancity has $27.4 billion in total assets or assets under management.
In its five years of operation, Observer says CoPower has focused its retail green bonds on “community-scale projects” involving solar panels, heat pumps, energy-efficient retrofits to residential and commercial properties, and energy storage, helping project developers to “ offset significant upfront equipment, installation, and other costs. The company’s investment is paid off over time as it pockets some or all of the initial cost savings.”
That kind of decentralized project “is increasingly the best bang for our buck,” Berliner said. “Instead of having one big power plant far away, sending electrons to a city, having solar and wind and geothermal and batteries integrated into the fabric of our community is where more investment dollars are going.”
The announcement “comes at a pivotal time, with proven technologies to help buildings and communities reduce their energy consumption or generate their own feed power in the market—but with limited financing to accelerate their deployment,” Observer adds. “Gilfoy said part of the problem is that banks are almost exclusively geared to use money to create more money.”
“Our goal is actually to make sure that things are starting to shift and change in the world that make it a better place to live,” she said. “Our goal, clear and simple, is to get money that doesn’t normally flow into where it’s needed.”
Observer goes into detail on the projects CoPower has funded to date and the new investments it may now be able to undertake.