A ROTORUA school has halved its electricity bill after installing 120 solar panels - among the most of any solar-powered school in the country.

Otonga Rd Primary School announced yesterday it had been accepted onto the Schoolgen solar power programme, run by Genesis Energy, having the solar panels installed during the last school holidays. It is the first Rotorua school to become a part of the nationwide programme.

Around $14,000 worth of panels were provided through the programme and the school's Board of Trustees put up about $80,000 to cover the costs.

The school celebrated with a pupil play talking about the importance and benefits of solar energy and how the solar panels worked.

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Principal Linda Woon said she was thrilled the school had finally been accepted onto the programme.

 Otonga Rd Primary School pupils celebrate becoming a Schoolgen school. PHOTO/BEN FRASER
Otonga Rd Primary School pupils celebrate becoming a Schoolgen school. PHOTO/BEN FRASER

"We have been trying to become a Schoolgen school for many years as it fits in well with our philosophies and will allow us to reduce our electricity bill and spend that money in other areas.

"We persevered and never gave up - eventually Genesis came to Rotorua and picked us and we are so proud of that."

Ms Woon said schools were ideal for solar panels because the majority of electricity was used during the day.

"The amount of power we generate from the panels is dependant on how much sun we get, but on average we are producing at least 50 per cent of the electricity we use."

As part of the programme, Otonga is supplied with teaching resources, software and support to teach pupils about solar power, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

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Board chairman Rob Lei said it was satisfying to see the long-term plan to install solar panels become a reality.

"This has been in the pipeline for a long time because we didn't want it to be a token effort. We have spent time understanding our options and we see this programme as beneficial to the school both financially and educationally."