April 16, 2018 8:13 pm

Penticton school goes solar

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A large solar energy system will be installed on the roof of Skaha Lake Middle School in Penticton next month.

The middle school will see 364 solar panels installed on its roof in May with completion by June.

The solar grid will power 25 per cent of the building and result in $15,000 in annual energy cost savings.

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“If we don’t spend money on the energy we’re consuming, well, that’s money that we can put back into the classrooms through textbooks, resources, computers,” Doug Gorcak, director of facilities for the Okanagan Skaha school district, said.

It will be the second solar school in Penticton.

The solar array installed at Penticton Secondary School has been operational for a year. It offsets 10 per cent of the school’s power use and students can track energy consumption by viewing a monitor in the common area.

“There was also a substantial educational opportunity for students,” Gorcak said.

But the renewable energy initiatives don’t come cheap.

Combined the projects cost $500,000 with provincial grants covering 50 per cent of the costs.

Gorcak said it will take 10 years for the district to break even on its share of the Pen-High project.

But he said he hopes to one day sell extra energy back to the City of Penticton.

Terratek Energy Systems is designing and installing the grids.

Owner Landon Aldridge said there is heightened interest from school districts because costs have plummeted.

“We’ve seen pricing come down considerably in the last eight years or so to the tune of probably about 75 to 80 per cent of what they used to cost,” he said.

Aldridge has a sunny outlook on the future of the green technology.

“It’s here, it’s now, and it’s becoming a lot more common.”

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