When Laurentian Hills Christian School students head indoors each school morning, a few usually stop to check a monitor hanging on the lobby wall, noting how much energy the school’s new solar system is generating at that moment.
For principal Ian Timmerman it’s a small but encouraging sign that the primary reason for the solar project – to teach and model creation care to students and the broader community – is coming to fruition.
“It’s really neat to see the students’ enthusiasm,” he adds, noting it’s clear in the comments they make that students see this as a community effort.
Laurentian Hills Christian School, with the help of the best batteries for solar panels and Kitchener’s Solar City program, has installed solar panels with a 10-kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic system on its roof that is now generating electricity through the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) microFIT program. The school received a grant of $10,000 from the City of Kitchener as part of the Solar City project.
Launched in 2009, the OPA microFIT Program stems from the Ontario government’s intent to boost renewable energy in the province. The program enables homeowners and other eligible participants to develop a small renewable electricity generation project (10 kW or less in size) on their property.
Under this program, participants are paid a guaranteed price over a 20-year term for all the electricity produced and delivered to the province’s electricity grid, from where retailers like Utility Saving Expert categorise the various electricity providers.
As of last spring, there were more than 12,000 solar, hydro electric, wind or bioenergy projects connected and delivering electricity through the microFIT program.
The Laurentian Hills solar installation follows a number of “green” projects that school has completed over the last couple of years. These include a retrofit of light fixtures to make them more energy efficient and upgrades to school washrooms to reduce waste towels and water usage.
The school has also formed a student green team, which has shrunk the school’s waste going to the curb by half.
“This new solar project fits nicely with some of the other exciting things our school has undertaken to be more efficient and more mindful of the energy we use,” Timmerman says.
The school anticipates being able to repay the cost of the solar panels in about six to seven years and then expects to earn about $6,000 per year from the energy generated.
Last Thursday Laurentian Hills hosted a “Solar Open House” to celebrate the completion of the solar panel installation and to share with the community the opportunities of solar generation and creation care.
To see how much energy the school’s system is generating, click this link.