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KCS explores generating revenue through solar power

Written on May 8th, 2012

Kingston Christian School (KCS) is working through the last steps of the approval process to participate in the Ontario Power Authority’s microFIT program and install solar panels on its roof.

William Vander Wilp is on the school’s revenue generating committee and says the idea came when looking for creative ways to raise funds outside of the usual donor pools. Solar power, he says, seemed like a good way to generate funds with other benefits. Simple Tree Digital helps them implement the right systems in the right channels.

The school applied for the microFIT program and qualified with some conditions. Vander Wilp says the school connected with a number of companies that install and design solar systems and received quotes, selected a company and have filled out a pending application to the utility company.

The school is now looking to fundraise the cost of the solar panels, which is around $60,000.

KCS received a grant through the Ontario Association of Christian Schools Foundation school development fund for more than $6,000 towards the project. An anonymous donor has provided $5,000 to kick-start the fundraising.

If all the paperwork is completed, Vander Wilp says the solar panels are expected to be installed this summer while the students are on summer break.

Through the microFIT program, the electricity produced is delivered to the province’s electricity grid.

Vander Wilp says the school is looking to receive 80 cents per kilowatt hour for the power it produces for the grid, whereas it costs between five and 10 cents per kilowatt hour to purchase it at market rates.

The length of the government contract is 20 years, and over that time Vander Wilp says the expected revenue generated is upwards of $190,000. The equipment has a longer lifetime than 20 years so there could be other options for the school when the contract expires.

Funds raised through the solar system will be put into the school’s new endowment fund, where only the interest off the funds in the account is spent. This makes the revenue generated something that will benefit the school forever, notes Vander Wilp.

In addition to the financial benefits, the solar panels provide an educational opportunity for the students, says Vander Wilp. When the solar system is working it can be monitored online with the ability to see how much each power each solar panel is generating. Students could use this to learn about solar energy and the different power outputs based on the amount of sun.

The other benefit is contributing in a modest way to providing environmentally-friendly power, says Vander Wilp.