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May 19, 2011

Toronto Schools to host the largest solar project in Canada

CANADA - The Toronto District School Board has approved a $445 million deal to add solar panels to almost every school in Toronto over the next 20 years, at no extra cost to taxpayers. It will be the biggest rooftop solar project in Canada.

The company (AMP Solar Ltd.) installing the solar panels will spend $121 million to repair and renovate school rooftops, and in exchange will gain the exclusive rights to put solar panels on the rooftops. AMP Solar Ltd. will be responsible for construction, technology, power generation, financing, roofing, operations and maintenance. Furthermore the Toronto school board will get a share of the profits from selling the electricity and will be paid rent for leasing the rooftop space.

AMP Solar Ltd. will install panels on up to 450 of the board’s 524 roofs, fixing the worst roofs in the first three years. Once installed the solar panels are expected to generate 66 megawatts of green energy per year, enough for 6,000 average Toronto homes.

The school board is now getting phone calls from other educators around the world for details, hoping to get a similar program at their schools.

“This is groundbreaking; this reduces greenhouse gases and provides a learning opportunity for our students and leaves a legacy for more than 20 years — this is extraordinary,” says Toronto District School Board Trustee Howard Goodman.

“Our students will not only be able to track the relationship between sunlight and electricity production, they will be going to school every day in a working power plant,” says Goodman. “This will make abstract concepts tangible and inspire many of them to build their own small-scale model power plants, look into the work of Einstein, ponder the mysteries of quantum physics, investigate the economics of power production and consider the relative environmental and health impacts of different energy sources.”

COMMENTARY

We think there is potential here for what we might term "Responsible Sponsorship". Some schools in the USA are accepting sponsors in an effort to keep their athletic programs, but sadly these sponsors are often promoting junk food and sugary drinks.

Responsible Sponsorship would mean only accepting sponsors which fulfill a helpful purpose that benefits society. ie. Tobacco = Bad. Bicycles = Good. Evidently local companies would be preferred. Even neutral companies like "Local Furniture Ltd." would be better than say McFattyBurger... and the furniture company could build all the desks, furniture, etc. for the school, but in exchange get advertising space in the school and any school publications (which parents would then see, and think "Hey, maybe we should buy our next sofa there.").

Food for Thought.

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