British Columbia

B.C. school district saves thousands of dollars per year going solar

A school district in the Okanagan is saving thousands of dollars each year using solar energy.

Okanagan school district plugs in its second solar panel project, expects to save $15K a year

A solar panel array atop Penticton Secondary saves the school district up to $15,000 per year. (Landon Aldridge of Terratek Energy Systems)

A school district in the Okanagan is saving thousands of dollars each year using solar energy.

Okanagan-Skaha School District 67 is preparing to plug in its second solar energy project atop Skaha Lake Middle School.

Over 300 solar panels will be installed on the roof. The project is expected to be up and running by summer.

"It's going to power about 25 per cent of the building," said Doug Gorcak, the district facilities manager.

"In dollars and cents, it's about $15,000 of power that we'll save through the course of the year," he said.

Saving big bucks

Combined with a previous solar panel installation at Penticton Secondary, the district stands to save about $30,000 per year total once the new project is up and running.

"From a district standpoint, its all about avoided costs," said Gorcak. "If we save that $15,000 in electricity through our utility accounts, that money can come back into general revenue and be put back into supplies and textbooks or even teaching staff if needed."

Gorcak says the district will continue to look for more grants to continue expanding its solar program.

"The technology has just come down in price over the last few years, so its becoming a lot more feasible," he said.

But perhaps the greatest reward can't be quantified.

Students stand to learn a lot about renewable energy and the importance of switching over to sustainable technology.

"We actually took three Grade 9 classes who were working on electricity at the time up to the roof to actually look at the solar [installation] and ask the questions that they want," said Gorcak.

"It was pretty exciting for the group."