Iain Grant: [00:00:00] Good afternoon. Over the course of this hour, information provided solely the view of the commentators and not necessarily those of Skyline Wealth Management, Newstalk 1010 Toronto or Bell Media products are not guaranteed and investor qualifications do apply. Past performance may not be repeated on this series of shows. We’ve talked with Jason Castellan, who CEO and co-founder and Ray Pun, who is vice president of Skyline Wealth. We got a chance to talk about the Skyline wealth model. We’ve also spoken with Matt, Oregon from Skyline Apartment REIT. And on that show, we discussed Canadian apartment real estate investing. Well, today here on Ask the Expert, we are joined by another of Skyline Fund presidents. Rob Stein is here. He is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. Today, we’re going to be talking about investing in Canada’s clean energy market. Welcome. And Rob, we did a show years ago. It is great to be back in the studio with you.
Rob Stein: [00:01:04] Yeah, thanks for having me, Ian. It’s great to be back as well.
Iain Grant: [00:01:06] Let me ask you a question right off the top, because I think there’s a lot of terms that people kind of hear nod, move on and they don’t really know what the heck they’re talking about. And one of those terms is clean energy. One of the good tests is you go to Google and you type clean energy is and you get everything from clean energy is the future to clean energy is a myth. What is clean energy?
Rob Stein: [00:01:31] Your view of clean energy is pretty simple. It’s energy that’s originated or derived from renewable sources or clean sources such as water. Can you maximize water flow to run a turbine and create electricity? Can you harness the sun that hits a solar panel and harness that into clean, renewable energy? So those are the type of things that we look at and and that we classify or define as clean energy.
Iain Grant: [00:01:56] As I said, we’ve done quite a few shows in the past. And one of the very first shows I did with Jason, we talked about how clean energy isn’t just a buzz word with Skyline, it’s something that for Skyline, it made sense right from day one because it meant being very socially responsible. Meanwhile, saving money. It turned into a win win win situation. When we originally talked at the skyline about the whole clean energy idea, at that point, I think it was just coming onto the cusp of being a really trendy thing to do. This has been part of Skylines core value since day one.
Rob Stein: [00:02:35] Yeah, it sure has. And Skylines core values really derive from our founders core values. And you talk about talking to Jason Castellan in the past and it’s really intrinsic in him. He loves clean energy, he loves renewable things, he loves agriculture, and anything that makes a lot of sense fiscally but also is the right thing to do. So it really came out of Jason’s passion for, you know, can I generate a little bit of extra income on my farm or can I put a solar system there that manages our energy demands and Ontario, while making a little bit of money. So it really came out of his passion for renewables and it came right through the skyline core principles into actually creating a whole fund based around clean energy and renewable energy in Canada.
Iain Grant: [00:03:21] It must be pretty exciting. Rob Working with the Skyline family, when you look around and realize that you have a real buy in here from the staff, everyone is really, truly working toward that same goal and passionately not because they think it might be the right thing to do, but they really believe in this.
Rob Stein: [00:03:39] Yeah, it’s like you said earlier, one of our core goals not only as employees but company wise and funds that each of the funds are going to be fiscally responsible, environmentally responsible. And that’s sort of yeah, we sort of attract people that want to work for the organization and invest in the organization, organization that also have like minded thought process and real values there. So it’s really a value approach that we take to this saying, hey, it’s the right thing to do, so let’s go and do more of it. And we see it through all of the fun products that we have, we through it through our employees. And it’s just that culture that we’ve built from sort of top down where it’s an approach that we think is going to live on for years and it’s the right thing to do.
Iain Grant: [00:04:23] So Rob, tell us about the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. How does it.
Rob Stein: [00:04:27] Work? So Skyline Clean Energy Fund started in 2018. It was originally originated out of a goal from our founders saying, hey, we have three really good core products that are heavily involved in the real estate market in Canada. And our investors were looking for more of an equity growth orientated fund that was based on renewable energy that they could really feel good about their investment while making a great return. 2018 the fund started. We started it as a growth orientated equity investment, which means we retain. All the cash flow generated from the systems and redeployed in a new accretive acquisitions that have a compounding effect on our unit value. It’s a private management fund that focuses solely on clean energy infrastructure in Canada. The fund really generates revenue through the production of clean, sustainable power via clean energy assets such as large scale solar systems or biogas generators. The power generated by these assets is purchased under long term contracts with the provincial government or power purchase agreements with creditworthy counterparts. It really allows us to create a really solid foundation, a cash flow that we can keep looking for new clean energy assets that are on cutting edge of the market or a real need in the market. We’d say, Hey, we’re going to go and chase a product there that we know we can. We can generate clean, renewable power in the communities in which we operate and really make sure we’re forward looking on Canada’s and Ontario’s goals there. So that’s really what the fund is and why it came into fruition.
Iain Grant: [00:06:00] I think in the early days there was an idea that, you know, the cleaner, the fund, the less it might earn. And that has really proved itself to be absolutely not true. There’s a great quote here from one of the financial magazines. While many are doing this to become more socially responsible, global citizen’s renewable energy is increasingly economical due to falling costs for solar panels, wind turbines, batteries for energy storage, and that is making the sector a more attractive investment opportunity. When we first started talking about this and started doing these shows, we had talked about all these options, but they were pretty price prohibitive. And it is amazing how much they have gone down allowing a fund like this to really soar.
Rob Stein: [00:06:46] Yeah, renewable energy has come a long way. You know, the early adopters were really doing it because they had a passion for environmental reasons, but there was really no return around it. And over the last 15 years, we’ve seen the cost come down so substantially that there’s a real market behind this now where we can build a product and make a good ten, 12, 15% return while still hitting our environmental impacts, which has been fantastic actually globally. Solar energy now is the cheapest cost of power that you can actually generate. And so we’re seeing this now overtake things like nuclear and natural gas turbines and coal plants. And so as the technology price comes down, we’re seeing a mass adoption of renewable energies, not only because there’s a return around it and it’s good for the environment, but it’s also bringing down our cost of energy for for most of society there, which is which is a great thing for growth in any economy.
Iain Grant: [00:07:42] This is us, the expert here on Newstalk 1010 Toronto, I’m Ian Grant and I’m joined by Rob Stein. Rob Skyline Clean Energy Fund invests in clean energy production. Is there a demand for clean energy in Canada?
Rob Stein: [00:07:56] There is a huge demand for clean energy in Ontario and Canada across the board. We’re seeing this start from government all the way down. Canada’s clean energy market is ever expanding, and there’s an excellent landscape for clean energy infrastructure, basically unlimited opportunities to add more capacity. Again, as part of the Paris Agreement, which legally binds the international treaty that aims at climate change. As part of this agreement, Ken is committed to achieving at least 45% reduction of emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050, and that’s almost sufficient to achieving our higher goals to to decrease the temperature, to keep it under 1.5 degrees Celsius. These climate policies developed, while they’re positive they’re still not sufficient in addressing climate crisis. So to add fuel to the fire in places like Ontario, we’re going to have a power shortage in the coming years with the mass adoption of electric vehicles and the decommissioning Pickering nuclear facility. We’re going to have this big power shortage. So the fund really sees an optimal time right now to be investing in clean energy infrastructure across Canada, one to hit our climate goals, but too, we think there’s going to be power demand where we can we can satisfy that for that, for the market. We can generate clean, renewable power at low cost and we can do that while making a positive impact on the transition to clean energy in Canada.
Iain Grant: [00:09:24] It’s just fantastic how things have changed and as you’ve said, being with Skyline for as long as you have, it must be rewarding watching as the technologies are embraced, as people wake up to clean energy as a serious, viable option. I mean, I have to guess at one point you were maybe wondering who you were sending this message out to. I have to guess that today it’s pretty clear.
Rob Stein: [00:09:50] Yeah. Our investors and all of our partners within the fund are really excited about where clean energy is and where it’s going. It’s not a conversation like we. 15 years ago, we had to educate people on clean energy and the benefits of clean energy and that there is an environmental crisis happening and that you can make returns. Investing in clean energy or being involved in clean energy, it’s a totally different dynamic now. Well, people get it. They’re passionate about it. They’re saying, Hey, I want to make sure that I understand where my power is coming from. I want it to be clean. I want it to be renewable. I want to leave this beautiful country to the next generation. And I can do something about it now. Well, while making a little bit of money, a great return and doing something for for for society. So we’re seeing this big change and this push. And it’s nice not having to walk people uphill anymore. It’s a lot of people coming to us saying, Hey, we love what you guys are doing and how can we get involved?
Iain Grant: [00:10:43] My guest this afternoon is Rob Stein. He is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. And this afternoon, we are talking about investing in Canada’s clean energy market. Skyline Clean Energy Fund focuses on investing in renewable and clean energy production here in Canada. It currently comprises 76 clean energy assets, 74 solar assets, and two bio gas facilities in two provinces. Skyline Pride themselves on offering investors a unique investment experience, helping to cut out a lot of the noise and emotion of what many investors can come to expect in the public markets. Skylines commitment to investors is to provide trusted advice and long term investment excellence while building and strengthening extraordinary client relationships. Skyline believe that investing should be enjoyable, engaging and, of course, rewarding. Learn more about the Skyline investment philosophy by visiting Skyline Wealth UK. That’s Skyline Wealth. S.a. I’m Ian Grant. Ask the Expert continues here on Newstalk 1010 Toronto. We are back. I’m Ian Grant and this is Ask the Expert on Newstalk 1010 Toronto. And today we’re talking about the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. It’s a fund that focuses on investing in renewable and clean energy production in Canada. And I am joined by one of Skyline Funds, President Rob Stein, who is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. Rob, we’ve had a really interesting couple of years with the pandemic and now one of the topics on a lot of people’s minds, you know, the potential recession out there, the rising interest rates. I’m curious, how has the Skyline Clean Energy Fund been able to navigate the past couple of years?
Rob Stein: [00:12:39] Yeah, the Clean Energy Fund has been really fortunate to navigate it very well. We saw no impact to our performance or revenue, which was based on our model that we have. We have long term assets here based on creditworthy applications with government backed contracts, fixed rate, fixed term contracts. So as long as the sun shining or we’re receiving garbage waste that we can process into energy, we’ve seen very little impact. And we’re really fortunate to say that because I know a lot of businesses had a hard go over the last couple of years, but we’ve been really fortunate to sort of keep moving forward. We’ve actually seen a tremendous amount of growth through the pandemic. One thing the pandemic did for the Clean Energy Fund is it sort of solidified what we do. What we do is we provide power in markets that people need power, critical infrastructure for your hospitals or your schools and your place of employment and malls and all these things that absolutely were essential through the pandemic. People realizing, oh, the Clean Energy Fund generates that power that we use right now, and that is essential for us to continue operation. So we’ve been really fortunate that the product that we built, the model that we have, has been really conducive, that we had no shutdown, no slowdown through the pandemic and really solidified what our our goals were here. Another reason that we sort of see the fund sort of accelerating here is we’re private investment, which generally means we don’t fluctuate with public markets.
Rob Stein: [00:13:58] We don’t see the same volatility, which it helps our product. So the value we have in our assets are still there today. It’s generated on the cash we’re generating and how while we operate our assets, not based on the volatility of public markets, which we really benefited from. So I like that. The other thing that we do different in the Clean Energy Fund is our portfolio is really diversified not only by geography, but also in the type of assets we we invest in the revenue sources. You know, we try and limit our exposure to the markets we don’t understand. And so by spreading out our asset base, we don’t get geographically restricted to saying, oh, we have an issue over here because unemployment or, you know, a miserable year while we still have the benefit of this other area that’s doing really, really well. We also have different revenue streams. So we get revenue through solar back fit contracts in Ontario, generating energy through sunshine. We get revenue through receiving waste and getting a fee to take that from this polity and process that we generate revenue through turning down. Into a natural gas and selling that back to the market or not into electricity. So we have a whole bunch of revenue streams that really were conducive to to us getting through the pandemic, you know, actually sort of accelerating through the pandemic and really crystallizing what we do and telling that story better for our unitholders.
Iain Grant: [00:15:16] You mentioned Skyline Energy’s diversified portfolio. Rob. How do you determine what assets to add to that portfolio? You know, do you look at a specific sector?
Rob Stein: [00:15:26] Yeah, we’re rooted in the fund, has something called the Declaration of Trust, and that really sets up a mandate of the type of things we can go and look at where we we’re really, really look at investing is the markets we understand. So we want to understand. We understand the government regulations around a market. We get into the environmental attributes in that market. What is the makeup of know how clean is the energy infrastructure in that market? And we really take all that in consideration, say, hey, what we understand is we understand how to buy clean energy assets, to operate clean energy assets efficiently. We understand the contracts, long term contracts associated with those and how to deal with the government organizations while managing those assets. And so what we really look at is sectors largely based in solar energy generation and bio gas energy generation. Those are the two areas that we’re really comfortable and in specific markets right now, and we’re really targeting both stabilized and underperforming assets. So oftentimes we’ll we’ll go in and we’ll buy a system that’s been built and operating for the last eight years. So we we can add our little secret sauce to it, saying, yeah, we can operate a little more efficiently here. If we add this technology, maybe we can improve the revenue stack. And so we’re really looking to find ways we can add the value that skylight brings. As a huge asset manager in Ontario and Canada to these assets and maybe perform a little better. So we optimize our unit value growth for our investors. That’s really what we’re looking at today.
Iain Grant: [00:16:54] It’s a pretty exciting concept, you know, being able to look at an existing clean energy facility and and look at it and say, you know what? You know, we can run this cleaner, we can run this more effectively. And one of the things that you were just talking about there really fascinated me, and that is how, you know, the investment invests on itself. There are so many diversified ways that the fund can generate funds on top of just, you know, the you know, you got to generates clean energy and and there’s just so many offshoots to that.
Rob Stein: [00:17:25] Yeah, totally. Yeah. One thing that people don’t understand, what we do is we do biogas. And that’s sort of an interesting scenario I can give you that explains your question there a little better is we buy a biogas facility. What is that? A biogas facility is a specific location where we have deals with municipalities or private corporations and we receive their waste, the organic waste. So you might live in an area that has a green box program, but where does that green box waste go? Does it go to a landfill? No, it doesn’t in most cases sometimes it does. But if it goes to a landfill, it has 25 times more carbon impact than it would if we could take that waste and process it and turn into something more usable. So we take these green box programs, we process that waste into something called a liquid slurry. We then take the gas off that and we harness that gas. We can either recycle it and filter it into a renewable natural gas, or we can take that gas or run an engine which generates electricity. So then we have a couple of different revenue streams. We have the revenue stream from receiving the waste we get paid to take that waste.
Rob Stein: [00:18:25] We have a revenue stream from either generating that gas or that electricity. And then what we’re left with is this really rich liquid fertilizer called Digestate. And we actually sell that back to farmers or to people that need fertilizer. And it’s a really neat closed loop process. Then where the farmers grow the food, food then goes to the cities, they consume the food, they put it in a green box, the food comes back to us, we process it into an electricity or gas, and the byproduct is digestate That goes back to the farmer to create the cycle over and over again. And so it’s one of those examples to your question, there was, you know, we have a really neat process where there’s ever evolving sort of intricacies that we could find and find new ways to generate revenue while providing clean, renewable energy in the process and a return for our unitholders. So it’s a really neat product that is going to continue to evolve. And we have the right people that know how to maximize those things. So we’re really fortunate with the team. We have to to sort of suck out all of the value out of these these assets that we buy.
Iain Grant: [00:19:22] One of the things that Skyline takes great pride in, I know is your communication with the investors out there and making sure that the lines are completely open and the conversations that can take place. And you must have some fascinating conversations with your investors when they realize that not only are they doing the right thing, but they’re benefiting from doing the right thing. There are absolutely some fantastic benefits to playing a part in this portfolio.
Rob Stein: [00:19:49] Yeah, we love to hear this story. And I and I actually saw when I started with Skyline and saw it on the other REIT’s, that investor would come and say, I have an investor for 20 years with you guys and I was able to. All my kids are university, or we’re able to take that extra vacation and buy that car I always wanted. And that was really cool to see. And as the fun sort of took off and I really love our investors to get engaged and hear some of these stories. And we’re hearing them now where investors are saying things like that, and also that our product is really making them feel warm and fuzzy because they know that their money isn’t just based on a return, but going to a product that actually makes a meaningful impact in the communities that they live. You know, we buy systems like this in their backyard. They might not even know what they’re using, the power that our systems generate and they’ve invested in. And so it’s a really cool product. Actually, one of our investors where we built this foundation of really good solar assets and one of our investors came to us and said, Hey, have you guys ever looked at bio gas? And we said, Yeah, we know a lot about bio gas, but we haven’t found the right thing to buy yet.
Rob Stein: [00:20:48] And investors like, actually I own a piece of a bio gas facility. Would you ever like to check it out? So I got my team and we went out and put on our our jeans and our plaid shirts and our steel toed shoes and went out and checked out this facility. And we walked through. We said, Wow, this is a pretty amazing operation. It’s exactly something that our fund would love to own and our investors would be proud of them. And so at the end of the site tour, I said, hey, you know, sort of joking, would you ever want to sell this thing? He’s like, Actually, you know, I’d be interested in Let’s talk. So we talked and that was our first acquisition into the bio gas space. We actually bought it from an existing investor and and continue to grow it. And now we have two of them with a couple more in the pipeline. And it was sort of a story that we got on common terms with our investor and loved what we were doing. So we got a little chummy with them and said, Hey, come and check out what we do over here. And so it was a really funny sort of situation and ended up being really, really good for the fund.
Iain Grant: [00:21:39] My guest this afternoon is Rob Stein. He is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. And this afternoon we are talking about investing in Canada’s clean energy market. Learn more about the Skyline investment philosophy by visiting Skyline Wealth. Okay, I’m Ian Grant. Ask the Expert continues here on Newstalk 1010 Toronto. We are back. This is ask the expert here on Newstalk 1010 Toronto. I’m Ian Grant. Today on the show, we’re talking about the Skyline Clean Energy Fund and how it focuses on investing in renewable and clean energy production in Canada. And I’m joined by Skyline Fund President Rob Stein, who is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. And this, Rob, worth pointing out, this is not just an Ontario idea. This is something Skyline takes across the country. And as you were just saying during the last segment, there’s some great benefits to communities here as well. You know, Elmira is as good an example as any. And from there we go to Lethbridge.
Rob Stein: [00:22:45] Yeah. Skylines model has been really investing in secondary and tertiary markets and it’s really played as well through the pandemic and through the last 20 years, to be honest, where we want to own projects that are in people’s backyards, in the communities in which we operate. You know, it’s it’s it’s it’s something that we take a pride of in the Clean Energy Fund. And we own our first biogas asset in Elmira, Ontario, which really makes a huge impact on that community. We generate a lot of the power that is actually consumed right in that town. We receive waste from areas of surrounding that area. We process it and turn it into a good renewable power. And we just made our foray into Alberta. We purchased our first biogas facility in Alberta and Lethbridge, and this is a neat facility. It’s in the the commercial area of town where a lot of farmers and it’s cattle, Ali, they call it. And so a lot of manure is processed in this area. A lot of cattle is generated and grown up in this area. While we receive all that waste, we take the manure, we take crop byproduct, we take municipal waste, we take it to this little facility in Lethbridge, in Ontario or Alberta, and we process it into a renewable natural gas, which we then pump back into the natural gas grid, which is pretty cool.
Rob Stein: [00:23:58] You know, federally, we see this as a as a big mandate going forward where, you know, the natural gas lines in Canada, you know, they want to be more renewable. So they have a mandate by 2025 to make the natural gas generation in Ontario with 5% renewable. And by 2030 they want it to be 10% renewable. So as one little facility, an outlet bridge makes a tremendous impact in the Alberta market to help them maximize this goal. So it’s it’s nice to be part of that. It’s neat to do that in a secondary market where we create lots of jobs in that area and we create a good environmental benefit while hitting federal and provincial goals to to reduce fossil fuels and to generate more clean, renewable, renewable natural gas. They’re so happy to be part of that market.
Iain Grant: [00:24:43] One of the real takeaways from this conversation, Rob, is the fact that clean energy, I mean, whether you’re doing it for the right thing or not, the benefits from it speak for themselves. You know, it’s just such a great concept. Now, I remember way back. Back when Jason and I did one of our first shows, we were talking about the apartment REIT and he was talking about skylines commitment to clean energy and how, you know, the benefits to the shareholders, you know, come from areas that you don’t necessarily consider. One of the examples he gave was an apartment building that Skyline purchased and the first thing they did was go in and get rid of all the incandescent bulbs in the hallways and in the common areas, replacing them with LED lighting. All of a sudden, you have a much, much better lighting source at a huge cost benefit to the investors. Meanwhile, doing the right thing.
Rob Stein: [00:25:34] Yeah. Yeah. It goes to one of your earlier questions that, you know sustainability has has been in skylines mandate from day one before it was cool before was trendy. It was just it was the right thing to do when you walk into a building. To your example, there’s a whole bunch of really, you know, power consumption consuming light bulbs and change them out to be something more fuel efficient. You know, change out those toilets that flush, you know, leaders and leaders, leaders, whatever, and try and reduce that, you know, get a low flush toilet. And so Skyline, REIT’s have looked at this model for years, you know, because they were able to lower their operating costs, which put more return to their unit which was the right thing to do. You know, it’s one of those things that we continue to look at it. The Clean Energy Fund is what is the right thing to do. And the return often follows that, you know, the right thing to do is to go and there’s a power need in a small town. Well, let’s go and build a generating facility that could fill that need in a clean, renewable way. And so something that, you know, when we talk about checking those boxes as investors look at our product and products in the market, I want to know what I’m investing in.
Rob Stein: [00:26:41] I want to know that the thing I’m investing is is doing something good in the market. I want to be able to make a return while I do it. So we check a lot of boxes for a lot of people there. And working for an organization like this, it just checks a lot of boxes. For me personally, I, I care about that stuff and, and I want to make sure that I’m working for an organization that that also cares about. And it’s not just lip service. It’s not just greenwashing, as we call it, the market. It’s really through and through and it is threaded through our organization. Here we have a full sustainability department are one of the founders. Roy Jason Ashdown is now our chief Sustainability Officer and he’s making it his mandate with a group of people here to make sure that our company has the policies, that we have fair employment and we pay properly and we’re in markets making a difference in these communities. So I think our employees are really feeling that. Our investors definitely are, and we’re proud to be a part of Skyline here.
Iain Grant: [00:27:35] This is us, the expert here on Newstalk 1010 Toronto, Amy and Grant. And today I’m joined by Skyline Fund President Rob Stein, who is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. Rob, you already mentioned the government role in the growth of clean energy. You know, but what role does the private sector play in Canada’s clean energy market?
Rob Stein: [00:27:55] It plays a huge role in Canada’s transition to clean energy. It goes back, you know, the FIT program in Ontario was a really controversial program back in 2009 when it was launched. Everyone’s saying, Oh, I right now I pay $0.12 a kilowatt for hydro. Why would I pay someone $0.50 or $0.70 a generator? But the point that people miss is that private business actually put the capital into these projects. It wasn’t government dollars. The government dollars are going to be paid back over the next 20 years. It was private business that said, hey, we’re going to commit to a new program to build a renewable energies in Canada or an Ontario, and we’re going to put this cap of capital down and yet we’re going to make a return over the next 20 years. But we’re making that that transition into really taking a program and maximizing the benefit of it. And so, you know, private businesses always service that gap. The clean energy industry is critical to helping the mitigation of climate change. Kind of has some Canada has some really lofty goals for emission reduction by 2030. And the only way to really achieve these goals is to make sure private business is investing in them, that we’re actually putting the resources we need into a province and and in these into sort of the Canada mandate there to to maximize those goals. And we’ve seen that. We’ve seen that through the adoption of electric vehicles. We’ve seen that through the adoption of solar systems and bio gas and wind turbines. And sometimes, you know, it’s hard to paint a nice story around it because I think government incentive around is so high that must be hitting us, the ratepayers. But it’s a really low cost thing to pay When you think about we’re trying to achieve the sustainability goals that are going to last for hundreds of generations, we hope. Right? So so the cost right now that we spend on clean energy infrastructure and these sustainability goals is really worthwhile to make sure we’re achieving our emission targets for 2030 and 2050.
Iain Grant: [00:29:47] Rob, Are you finding it easier when you talk to private investors? I mean, I have to guess that, you know, when this conversation took place five, ten years ago, you know, there was a little maybe reluctance on their part. Weren’t really cognizant of what clean energy was or how they could benefit from it. I would I mean, my guess is that the education that’s taken place over the past decade must make that conversation a lot easier to have.
Rob Stein: [00:30:14] Yeah. Sure is. When I started this industry, we were really trying to sell people on, Hey, climate change is a real thing. And yeah, you can invest in clean energy and actually make a return. Everyone’s like, Prove it. And so now the industry has been really prevalent in Ontario and Canada for the last ten, 15 years. You know, investors, we’re not talking about that stuff anymore. We’re really talking about is, hey, how do we do more? How do our investors say, hey, we’re excited that you you really took part in this Ontario market? Well, how do you do that from coast to coast? How do we see that on all of our real estate solar system, on every single one of our real estate? How do our we add electric vehicle chargers to our our apartment REIT? So if you decide to buy an electric vehicle, you can actually charge it. And how do we charge it with clean, renewable energy? And so it’s really you know, now we’ve identified the problem and we said, hey, people have bought into solving this problem by investing in clean energy or sustainability goals. Well, now we can really get fancy on let’s close a whole bunch of other gaps, you know, what are we doing in our day to day lives that we can do better to make sure we’re hitting these sustainability goals? You know, it’s easier to tell that story in the fund because we make a return while doing it. We make a really good return while doing it. We’ve done that for since 2018. So it’s a story that I really enjoy talking about now because the proof is in the pudding and the last 20 years of skylines business and since 2018 and the Clean Energy Fund, we’ve been living and breathing this and making returns while we do it.
Iain Grant: [00:31:37] My guess this afternoon is Rob Stein. He is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. And this afternoon we are talking about investing in Canada’s clean energy market. Learn more about the Skyline investment philosophy by visiting Skyline Wealth UK. That’s Skyline Wealth Dot okay I’m Ian Grant ask the expert continues here on Newstalk 1010 Toronto. We are back this is ask the expert here on Newstalk 1010 Toronto I’m Ian Grant and today Skyline Clean Energy Fund, a fund that focuses on investing in renewable and clean energy production here in Canada and currently comprises 76 clean energy assets, 74 solar assets to bio gas facilities in a couple of provinces. And we are talking with skylines. Fund President Rob Stein is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. Rob, can you take us back? Because I mean, we’ve done shows on the various funds out there, but I think it’s worth mentioning how and you’ve touched on it, but go a little deeper on how these funds work together. And that’s the beauty of Skyline is, you know, it’s not like individual boxes all stacked up. Everyone is working together with everyone else.
Rob Stein: [00:32:52] Yeah, it’s a great question. We get it all the time. So the funds are siloed. So they have their own management, they have their own board of directors that look after the unitholders wherewithal. They buy their own type of asset class. So we have an apartment fund, we have an industrial REIT, we have a retail, we have a clean energy fund. So they’re very much siloed, different products. We don’t share money, we don’t share raises, they’re very much siloed. With that being said, we do share a philosophy at Skyline that, you know, we make sure we buy real estate or clean energy infrastructure and markets, we understand and and we generate revenue through good operations and site optimization. And one of the ways we do that is through our sustainability and clean energy approach. So the actual the apartment fund in 2009 invested into 70 plus solar systems on their apartment roofs. They did that because they said, hey, we have an underutilized rooftop here. We’re not actually getting rent from our rooftop. And so is there a program that we can optimize to actually generate more revenue? So they got involved in the solar program in Ontario and they added 70 plus solar systems to their roof that generated ten, 12, 15,000 a year for an underutilized asset. That was awesome. And then they continue to invest in that space. They’re investing into 852 EV chargers from coast to coast, which is going to allow accessibility to charge EVs. And so their tenants are going to say, I want to choose a skyline building over another building, and I’m going to do that because I have an EV skyline understands I need to charge it and and they’re going to do it in a sustainable way eventually.
Rob Stein: [00:34:24] We’d love to add solar to those buildings that we’re actually powering those EV chargers. So it’s this closed loop. We generate the power, they use the power. We generate new power the next day and they use it the next day. And so it’s this really neat closed loop. We see it through the other rates, both the industrial read and the retail read of Invest in Renewable Energy. They’re doing a big EV expansion across Canada. So really where my team’s expertise comes is we’re experts in energy, we we’re experts in environmental attributes and carbon credits and how to add more solar to specific markets and generate revenue through it. And so what we’re able to do as a management. Here is we’re able to put our heads together and say, hey, you know, I think you can make an extra revenue through generating power, through an environmental way or a clean energy asset. Go and invest into this and this is your revenue stack so we can share knowledge like that. That really helps with skylines, core strategy and goals, which is, you know, how do we do good things in the markets we operate while making a return? And I’m happy to share my expertise with the department, just like they’re happy to share expertise on different financings or debt requirements or how they raise equity. So it’s a really nice family we’ve developed here that we share knowledge and I and I love it as a renewable energy guy because I see so much opportunity for the rights to to get involved in more clean energy and and and really create great new revenue streams for those funds. And I just like seeing more of it happen in the market. So that’s fantastic.
Iain Grant: [00:35:48] Rob, while I have your ear here, I think it’s a great chance to also, you know, kind of tap your knowledge to talk about some of the challenges that Jim might foresee coming in the future for the clean energy industry.
Rob Stein: [00:36:02] Yeah, one of the challenges we always see is, is in markets that have specific energy makeup say it’s a big coal power generation in a province or reliance on something that’s more dirty power We often see in those markets. It’s a little more of an adoption curve, but we have to really educate people that that’s an older way to generate electricity. We can do it more cost effectively, we can do it more environmentally friendly. So we have a little bit of that. Second of all is oftentimes when when there’s new programs is we’re just educating people about new programs and the availability of they’re one of the things we see is you ask me a previous question about the rights and how we work together. You know, what happens after the Clean Energy Fund, All of our contracts expire with provincial government. What do we do? Well, now we have to deal with the REIT or private organization and say, hey, we can generate power for you guys at your location cheaper than the market. Well, do you want to negotiate? Do we want to set that up to a fixed rate fixed term where generates a lot of value for the Clean Energy Fund, but it will also generate a value for the REIT or our counterparty because I only get fixed clean energy at a lower cost and they don’t worry about increasing energy prices.
Rob Stein: [00:37:16] So really some of the challenges we see in the market is just continue to educate private businesses on, hey, this is the right thing to do and there’s actually a market for you to make money and find out sophisticated ways to do it. And the only other thing there is, you know, from a from a from a federal perspective is we want to make sure that as the demand for EVs pick up and there’s more need for power that we’re we’re doing generating that power through renewable form. So we just have to obviously be talking about this all the time, saying cheaper form of power is is renewable energy. It’s also the cleanest and greenest. Let’s put more of that federally. Coast to coast and not just do the same old thing, which is we’re going to add another natural gas peaker plant or, you know, optimize our coal facility or try and put more money into some dirty power. It’s the way the dodo bird we need to be doing forward looking projects here that really maximize clean energy. And in Canada.
Iain Grant: [00:38:16] I’m curious, Rob, with these challenges, is there anything that Canadians can do to have a real impact on climate change? Because you must hear it. I hear it people saying, you know, I’m aware of it. I know I need to do something. But in all honesty, I probably can’t have any effect because, you know, this country or this group or whatever it is, you know, they need to do it. And when they do, then I’ll take, you know, my steps forward. Is there something that, you know, an individual Canadian can do to have that real impact?
Rob Stein: [00:38:46] Yeah, everything really helps, right? When we talk about recycling programs, we talk about changing light bulbs out into more efficient light bulbs that save them money and is also the right thing to do. We also see all Canadians can get involved and they should care about clean energy. They should get involved in clean energy. It’s a real way that we can make meaningful impact from coast to coast. The majority of demand for electricity, especially with changes in technology, the government’s push towards electrification of transportation, you’re going to see that. And that’s, you know, sometimes a proper conversation, sometimes not. But you’re going to see it happening because there is a big push towards electrification of everything, including transportation. Right now, if this demand isn’t addressed, we’ll likely see frequent blackouts and power shortages and more things like that so we can get ahead of that. And, you know, the cost of energy isn’t going down. So investments will naturally grow by supporting funds like ours. Investors can directly have a positive impact on Canada’s transition to clean energy, which is something everyone can be proud of. So whether it’s turning the tap off when you brush your teeth or changing a light bulb out or investing with us, there are all things that you should be proud of and absolute we should do.
Iain Grant: [00:39:57] It’s not until you start like. Researching and looking into this that you realize, you know, that your own ideas need to be challenged. For example, one of the one of the things I read that really kind of caught me off guard was that electricity, the number one source of greenhouse gases, and apparently more than all of our driving and flying combined, which I was, you know, I always assumed it was the driving and the fly. You know, those are the ones we hear about. We you know, we don’t hear that much about the electricity part. And it really does underline just how it all comes together and how, you know, with that overview of the situation, you’re right. We can start to make a difference.
Rob Stein: [00:40:35] Yeah, totally. Yeah. Without sounding too granola on you, it’s simple things is red meat has a big impact. Maybe eat less red meat or do things. Turn those lights off when you leave that room or turn the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth, things like that. Do we make an impact? But, you know, I’m thankful that I can go to work every day. And I love what I do. And I’m buying clean energy assets in Canada. And that makes a tremendous amount of impact on on our mission goals in Canada. One, from a sustainability perspective, one from a personal perspective, I’m really pleased with what we do in the fund and how we do it.
Iain Grant: [00:41:06] Rob Great Earth, thank you for joining me.
Rob Stein: [00:41:08] Yeah, thank you very much, Ian. I really appreciate your time.
Iain Grant: [00:41:10] And my special guest this afternoon, Rob Stein. Rob is president of the Skyline Clean Energy Fund. And today we’ve been talking about investing in Canada’s clean energy market skyline. Clean Energy Fund focuses on investing in renewable and clean energy production here in Canada. It currently comprises 76 clean energy assets, 74 solar assets and two bio gas facilities in two provinces. Skyline Pride themselves on offering investors a unique investment experience, helping to cut out a lot of the noise and emotion of what many investors can come to expect in the public markets. Learn more about the Skyline investment philosophy by visiting Skyline Wealth UK. That’s Skyline Wealth dot K. This has been ask the expert here on Newstalk 1010 Toronto.