Toronto District School Board has announced that it plans to outfit nine local schools with photovoltaic (PV) installations by the time students return to their classes at the end of next summer. Collectively, the installations will be capable of producing 223 kW of electricity and will allow the students to gain first-hand experience with solar energy technology while they train for their future careers.
School board members have selected the two lowest bidders, whose names they have yet to release, to construct the solar projects. Ontario’s Ministry of Education will provide the funding for the nine installations, which the board expects will cost $3.7 million. The ministry operates a $50 million program designed to fund school renewable energy projects. The solar systems will generate money for the school board by participating in the Ontario government’s feed-in tariff program, which pays high rates to producers of solar, wind, and biomass energy who feed their installations into the provincial power grid. One of the feed-in tariff’s key goals is to help phase out coal-fired power production by 2014. In addition to renewable energy, the program helps create green careers for graduates of the province’s PV classes and other educational streams that prepare workers for the future of energy generation.
School Projects Will Earn Revenue, Create Green Careers
The school board will put the money it generates from the solar installations and the feed-in tariff into its Go Green fund, which it will use to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its buildings by 20% over the next decade. The Go Green initiative also includes plans for twenty more solar installations at Toronto-area schools by 2012, which the board will have to fund with its own resources. It expects to pay back these costs within eleven years using feed-in tariff revenue.
Before it can commence building the projects, the board must wait for final approvals from the province, which staff hope to receive by this coming spring. The installations’ construction will create green jobs for Ontario’s career solar workers since, in order to receive the province’s renewable energy incentives, participating projects must use up to 60% Ontario-sourced materials and labour.
With its numerous solar projects slated for the coming years, the Toronto District School Board joins schools, businesses, and individual residents across the province who are making the switch to renewable energy.
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