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Notley government to spend at least $9M on solar panels for Alberta schools

A file photo of workers installing solar panels.
A file photo of workers installing solar panels. Courtesy: Greenpeace Canada

Alberta’s government announced Wednesday it was making at least $9 million available to cover the cost of installing solar panels at schools across the province.

In a release, the government said the initiative was being rolled out as part of its Climate Leadership Plan.

“Climate change is real,” Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said in a statement. “Albertans are ready to take action because ignoring the problem is not a solution. Installing solar panels on schools is one way our future leaders can learn about energy options that reduce long-term cost and emissions.”

READ MORE: Alberta adopts building code changes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

According to the province, solar projects at 36 schools are currently in the planning or design phase but the province has yet to solicit requests for proposals. The government said the idea for mounting solar panels on schools came from students.

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“We have heard directly from students from across Alberta and their message is clear – they want us to be leaders on climate change,” Education Minister David Eggen said.

The NDP government said there will be furthers talks with school boards about the solar panel projects and it will put together a committee to evaluate the project’s impact and look at possibly expanding the program.

The province said schools will also be able to access funding to help students get an educational benefit from the installation, possibly by allowing students to use an app to track the power generated by the solar panels.

READ MORE: Alberta government launches panel for energy efficiency advice

“It’s important to teach our kids about the realities of climate change,” Matthew Armstrong, assistant principal at Calgary’s Sir John A. Macdonald School, said. Eggen and Phillips visited his school – which already has 40 solar panels on its roof- on Wednesday.

“We expect many of our students, using the knowledge they learn about solar energy and other renewable energy solutions in the classroom, will help lead Alberta as we transition to more sustainable energy,” Armstrong added.

Cost are estimated to range from about $250,000 to $750,000 per project, depending on the size of the school and other conditions.

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The money for the program will come from education capital funding.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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