Ontario Secondary School First to Actively Support Green Energy Act

Photo: istockphotos

Northwestern Secondary School in Stratford, ON could potentially boost the province's economy in a most unlikely way.

It recently applied to the Ontario Power Authority to qualify for government incentives while installing solar panels.  This purchase is the first of its kind by an Ontario school and is in line with Green Energy Act's goal of promoting clean, renewable energy and conservation.  The school will profit from financial and energy savings, and the larger community will potentially benefit from spin-off job creation and solar energy training opportunities.

Ontario Economy to Benefit from Project
Northwestern teacher, Rob Collings, believes that the project’s return on investment is important for the future of similar green projects at the school.  “We should be able to generate $5,000 a year, which we'll put back into environmental projects."  

The project will continuously support the Ontario economy since the school will have the option of selling electricity back to municipal utility company, Festival Hydro - an action in line with the Green Energy Act.  Moreover, the Northwestern experiment could serve as a template for other public and private schools in the region.

Increased Student Interest in Solar Energy Training

One of the more impressive features of the project is the on-site monitoring, which allows students to access online tracking of the energy generated by the panels.  This could foster student interest in future employment opportunities within the solar industry, thus, leading to increased interest in solar energy training as well.  According to Industry Canada, the renewable energy sector could grow the Ontario economy, along with that of the entire nation’s, by creating a cumulative 13,000 jobs by 2012 and generating approximately $10 billion in revenue.

Green Energy Act Leaders of Tomorrow

The student’s commitment to this 20-year project appears to be undeterred, despite the hefty $40,000 price tag.  The school used a number of fundraising activities including a charity dinner.  Although the project will not require the students to undergo any solar energy training on-site, it is hoped that this early exposure to sustainability, responsible energy management, and community activism will help shape the leaders of tomorrow, creating many more examples for others to follow in the coming years.  

---------

Austin Brentley is a born and bred Washingtonian who has spent the last 9 years traveling the globe, living in New York, Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, France, and most recently, Malaysia.  Passionate about all things green, Austin currently works with the Ontario Solar Academy, writing news stories and blogs about North America's growing solar revolution.  Feel free to drop him a line if you have questions about photovoltaic technology or solar panel installation training.


Talya Rotem holds an MA in Sociology in Education from the University of Toronto. She is also a certified nutrition practitioner, and has published many health related articles, including one written for the International Institute of Concern for Public Health.