Kudos to the Toronto District School Board for taking the plunge into solar PV, announcing yesterday its trustees had approved a $445-million deal to have hundreds of school rooftops lined with solar PV panels. This, really, is what the feed-in-tariff program was meant for: getting the community engaged in the province’s electricity sector. At the same time, this gives students across the city for the next 20 years direct exposure to the future of clean electricity production. These rooftops will become an educational tool, and not just for students, but for people living in the surrounding communities.
In exchange for letting its school rooftops be used for solar PV, the joint venture doing the installation, AMP Solar Ltd. Partnerships (the partnership is between AMP and Potentia Solar), has agreed to spend up to $121 million on replacing and repairing school rooftops. The board will also get paid a modest rent for letting AMP use its rooftops. AMP is responsible for all construction, providing the technology, overseeing the power production, financing, roofing, operations and maintenance. All said, the schools will collectively have an electricity production capacity of 66 megawatts, with each school effectively becoming its own tiny power plant.
There’s no reason this can’t be replicated with school boards — public and Catholic — across the province. And while the premium being paid for this solar power might sting, take comfort in knowing that a good portion of that premium is going to our cash-strapped schools and our children’s education. And, of course, there’s the clean energy we get from it.