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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

450 Toronto school roofs to go solar


The Toronto District School Board and AMP Solar Group Inc. have teamed up to install solar panels on hundreds of school rooftops in a deal that could be worth $1.1 billion in green electricity generation over 20 years.

The TDSB said late Wednesday it signed a deal with AMP, which will build, install and maintain solar photovoltaic panels on as many as 450 school rooftops or 12 million square feet of roof space.

The board said there is no cost to the TDSB and that AMP will be responsible for all project costs. The panels will go only on roofs that can support them, and in return the schools will get $120 million worth of roof repairs.

This is seen as a boon for the school board which is in need of some $3 billion to repair its crumbling buildings — everything from new roofs to boilers.

TDSB schools are going to get new roofs in exchange for letting the green energy company put the panels up and for more than 60 schools that means the difference between a tarp covering their school and an actual roof.

"We have 61 schools today that have tarped roofs that need to be replaced," said trustee Sheila Penny.

Between 58 and 66 megawatts of electricity could be generated by this program each year, the board said. That is equivalent to the amount needed to meet the average electrical needs of almost 6,000 households, according to the TDSB.

The energy produced will be sold into the local distribution grid for use by local electricity customers, including TDSB schools, and it could be worth as much as $1.1 billion over the 20-year period, staffers told the CBC's Steven D'Souza. The board could get 14.5 per cent of that over the period, he reported.

The initiative is expected to get underway beginning next spring.

The board and AMP executives will hold a news conference 11 a.m. Thursday at Hillcrest Public School.

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