For education’s sake, let the sunshine in!

This article appeared in the Ottawa Metro on January 15, 2014.

Solar energy. Deal between high school and energy co-op means revenue and teaching tool

TREVOR GREENWAY – trevor.greenway@metronews.ca

Students at Samuel-Genest Catholic High School will learn firsthand what it takes to create electricity when the Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop (OREC) installs a series of solar panels on the rooftop of the school. Science teacher Josée Batista can’t wait to start using the renewable energy system in her classes — especially the electricity portion of her Grade 9 class.

“There is a lot of talk about electricity consumption, how do we produce electricity, renewable energy, non-renewable energy and students will be able to use this data, because there will be monitors in the hallway,” said Batista. “I am for sure going to be using the data.” The school agreed to rent the roof to OREC for $7,500 a year for the next 20 years, but more than the money is the educational opportunity students at the school will be offered.

Batista said she expects the rooftop project to engage the students in understanding what kind of impact they can have on energy consumption. “I think it’s important for them to know that it is not easy producing electricity, but we depend on it a lot,”

Batista said. “But there are ways of reducing our consumption by raising awareness and making them realize that a 45-minute shower is not the idea.”

OREC operations manager Janice Ashworth said the system will produce 91,500-kilowatt- hours per year. That’s enough energy to power a small community street for a year. Ashworth said the project will generate about $65,000 of revenue every year and the energy created will go directly to powering the community surrounding the school.

“For us, it’s a perfect marriage as well, because a good chunk of our mandate and our motivation to create this cooperative was to provide that awareness opportunity to engage people in Ottawa in their renewable energy future,” said Ashworth, adding that OREC has six other solar rooftop projects across the city.

OREC Events

Jan. 16, 7-8:30 p.m., 704 Carsons Rd, Samuel-Genest School, Library
All are invited to learn about, and become involved in, the 75kW solar project being installed on the roof of the school.

Jan. 23, 7-9 p.m., HUB Ottawa, 71 Bank St, 6th Floor
At this event you will hear from graduates of Al Gore’s Climate Change Reality Course; meet OREC members, hear how to join Ottawa’s clean energy movement; and enjoy a bowl of homemade harvest soup.

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