Greens launch 'Solar In Schools' policy

By James Russell

Green MPs Dr Russel Norman and Gareth Hughes with pupils of Laingholm School at the launch of the Green Party's Solar In Schools policy. Photo: James Russell
Green MPs Dr Russel Norman and Gareth Hughes with pupils of Laingholm School at the launch of the Green Party's Solar In Schools policy. Photo: James Russell

Green Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman launched his party's 'Solar in Schools' policy this morning at Laingholm Primary School in Auckland.

If implemented, 500 schools will have solar panels installed over three years at a cost of $20m. The Greens have calculated annual savings off those schools' power bills of $1.64m, with a saving of $41m over the 25-year lifespan of the solar panels.

The total installed capacity will be almost seven megawatts - the size of a small power station.

"In the same way that households are paying too much for power, schools' electricity bills are too high," Dr Norman said.

"Our Solar in Schools policy will allow them to save money on electricity - money which can be invested directly into teaching and learning instead.

"It's effectively increasing schools' operations budget, in a smart, green way."

Laingholm Primary School plans to install a 10kW solar system, which will save it over $2500 a year in electricity costs.

"A saving of $2500 on electricity would enable me to double the amount of money I allocate in my budget to literacy," Principal Martyn Weatherill said.

"I would much rather spend money on students than on power," he said. "This policy will benefit the environment and improve student achievement."

"Solar PV is one of the smartest, greenest forms of electricity generation available," said Dr Norman.

"We can reduce electricity demand by powering our schools with the sun that shines during the day.

"Solar in Schools has the added benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and educating students, staff and the wider community about environmental sustainability and clean energy.

Element recently covered the installation of a 10kW grid-tied solar array at Peria School in Northland, which will save the school $6000 a year in power bills.

Solar in Schools builds on previous Green Party energy announcements, including NZ Power, which will create a single buyer and save families around $300 a year, and Solar Homes, which will help households install solar on their roofs.

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For full details of the policy, go to: www.greens.org.nz/solarschools

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