Ontario schools get $50 million green boost

TORONTO, ONTARO - St. Basil-the-Great College School is a step closer to building a wind turbine on its front lawn after the Ontario government announced it is providing $50 million to help schools go green.

The money will encourage school boards to cut down heating, cooling and energy bills by installing technologies such as solar panels, geothermal systems and small-scale wind projects, Energy Minister George Smitherman said at St. Basil's in North York.

Schools that go green will not only save money on energy and natural gas bills, they can also make money by selling electricity back to the grid through feed-in tariffs, he added.

The $50 million committed is in addition to the $550 million announced in April to retrofit schools – especially older buildings in need of new boilers and windows – to save energy and create nearly 5,000 temporary jobs.

The government will help Ontario's 72 school boards research technologies and select vendors, according to the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure. The $50 million will flow to boards in spring 2010.

"By next summer," said Smitherman, "we will make a very positive long-term impact on the environment."

The green push is part of the Liberal government's green energy act, legislation they say will create 50,000 green jobs over three years and generate economic growth by encouraging renewable energy projects and energy conservation.

St. Basil's principal Carmine Settino said they are hoping to purchase a spiral-shaped windmill with the money and put it on the front lawn of the school near Weston Rd. and Sheppard Ave. W. "We are trying to raise awareness for the kids. Ultimately it is their future we are talking about," Settino said.

Smitherman announced government buildings would also soon go green. The government recently purchased 222 Jarvis St., formerly the head office of Sears Canada and plans to spend $100 million to retrofit the building with a variety of green measures.


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