Seaway goes solar


If you’ve entered through the front doors of the school recently, you may have been wondering why there’s a television mounted above the gymnasium doors.

Well, Seaway Intermediate and District High School was home to some major additions this year. One of these additions is a power generating unit of solar photovoltaic panels on the roof and the monitor above the gymnasium keeps everyone up-to-date on the energy being produced.

The solar panels are a new wave sweeping across the region, thanks to the Ontario Government. Seaway’s solar addition came by way of the Renewable Energy Funding for Schools.

Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) received a grant for the total of the Seaway solar project, which cost $193,494.

UCDSB Manager of Design and Construction, Peter Bosch, began preparing the application for the grant two years ago. He applied for funding for three separate schools and all three were accepted.

According to Bosch, selling the electricity produced by Seaway’s solar panels back to the grid will allow UCDSB to earn approximately $9,000 to $11,000 per year in revenue.

Other than start-up cost, which was funded by the provincial government, the panels will need very little by way of ongoing financial upkeep.

Seaway Principal Terry Gardiner explained that the panels do not require “battery back-up.” Also, the school is not “storing” as the power “goes directly to the grid.”

Gardiner explained that Seaway was chosen because it was an “ideal candidate” meeting the required conditions: direct sunlight, free space, and a roof that will allow for the load.

Bosch confirmed this saying that Seaway offers an unobstructed view with major sun exposure in the southeastern direction.

The 10 by 100 foot long structure consists of 52 panels, which are “set to maximum exposure.” Industrial Electrical Contractors Limited (IEC) from Brockville installed the panels.

While they “haven’t been back for briefing on” seasonal maintenance, Gardiner believes, in terms of snow and ice, that the panels are mostly “maintenance free.” 

According to Gardiner, the solar unit “will become more of an educational tool,” but, for now, “we are just getting used to it.”

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