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Metro Ottawa: More Ottawa schools to soak up solar energy with rooftop panels

By Lucy Scholey

More students will get hands-on education into the workings of a solar powered system, as an energy co-op is planning to install more rooftop panels on Ottawa schools.

The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op is hoping to raise $3 million to invest in six more solar rooftop projects in the city. Those projects include three city high schools and at least three more on private buildings, including barns and warehouses.

“It creates an opportunity for the teachers and the students to build the very hands-on, tangible project into their classrooms,” said Janice Ashworth, operations manager with OREC. “The school boards, themselves, have been progressing on a number of different initiatives, in terms of sustainability, to demonstrate that to their students and to be keeping up with each other.”

The solar systems will also be a revenue generator for the schools, as the electricity is sold back to Hydro Ottawa.

OREC installed a solar panel system at Samuel-Genest French Catholic high school earlier this year. The co-op estimated $65,000 a year in revenue for the school. It cost $500,000 to install and was expected to produce 100,000 kilowatt hours per year.

The expected costs for the other schools will likely be less, as the costs of solar power installation are decreasing, said Ashworth.

OREC is hoping to connect these solar panels by January 2015.

Members of the OREC co-op can buy shares on the solar power systems. OREC’s share offerings for previous projects, valued at $1 million each, sold out within a few months.

There will be an information session on the OREC projects on Sept. 4 between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. at 969 Wellington Street West.

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