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Solar Panel Projects

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) program was developed by the former Ontario Power Authority (OPA) to promote the use of renewable energy sources such as solar panels for electricity generating projects. Under the FIT program, each participant will be paid by the OPA for electricity generated by solar panels during a 20-year period.

In February, 2014, the TDSB formed a joint venture with Schooltop Solar Limited Partnership (SSLP) to install solar panels on the roofs of 301 schools under the FIT-2 program. The Solar Schools Project was completed in November, 2016. Over the course of the project, 4.3 million square feet of school roofs were replaced. The electricity generated from these projects is equivalent to the amount used by approximately 4,250 households in Toronto annually.

The Solar Schools Project has proven to be a huge success; therefore, the TDSB decided to proceed with solar installation in an additional 58 schools/Administration facilities under the FIT-4 program. Phase II of the School Solar Project started in the summer of 2017 and will be completed by the spring of 2018. The revenue generated from these projects will be used to fund roof replacements for TDSB schools. The project will generate enough electricity to be used by approximately 1,100 households in Toronto annually.

SSLP is currently working on the following projects which should be completed by March, 2018:

  • Charles Gordon Sr PS
  • Shaughnessy PS
  • R H King Academy
  • Blacksmith PS
  • Brookview MS
  • Beverley Heights MS
  • Earl Grey Sr PS
  • Banting and Best PS
  • Cliffwood PS
  • McGriskin Centre
  • Tredway-Woodsworth PS

Qs&As

  1. What is solar power? 
    Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity by using photovoltaic (PV) cells to convert light into electric current. The Solar PV System is rapidly becoming an efficient way to harness renewable energy from the sun.
     
  2. What are the advantages of solar power? 
    The following are some of the advantages of solar power:
    • It is a renewable energy source as opposed to non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels, coal and nuclear.
    • It is a sustainable energy source which meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations.
    • It is environmental friendly because it generates much less pollution than conventional energy sources. Solar power reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and as a result, greenhouse gas emissions will be significantly reduced.
       
  3. What is the difference between the FIT-2 and FIT-4 programs?
    School solar projects are fully funded by Schooltop Solar Limited Partnership (SSLP). This company is in charge of the design, construction and maintenance of Solar PV systems for the duration of the FIT contract. Under the FIT2 program, SSLP receives approximately 55 cents per kWh generated by the solar panels for a 20-year period. For the FIT4 program, SSLP receives approximately 20 cents per kWh.
     
  4. What does a typical Solar PV System in TDSB school consist of?
    The Solar PV System uses roof mounted solar panels to produce direct current (DC) which is converted to alternating current (AC) through the use of inverters and a transformer. In addition to the solar panels and inverters on the roof, disconnect switches and a transformer are mounted inside a fence enclosure that is located on the exterior wall of the school. Inside the school electrical room, there is new metering equipment and a disconnect switch that connects to the hydro grid via the main switchboard.
     
  5. Will the electricity generated by the Solar PV System be used by the school?
    The electricity generated by the Solar PV System will be used primarily by the school.  However, if the electricity generated exceeds consumption (e.g. during weekends), the surplus electricity will be fed back into the grid.
     
  6. How schools benefit from the solar schools project?
    Schools get their aging roof replaced prior to solar panels installation. In addition, students will have the opportunity to learn about the global impact of energy use on the environment and the importance of greenhouse gas reduction.
     
  7. How long does it take to install a solar panel? 
    It takes between six to eight weeks.
     
  8. How long would the whole project take?
    Depending on the roof area to be replaced, the average roof replacement could take four to six weeks and the solar panel installation six to eight weeks. Therefore, the whole project would take approximately 10 to 14 weeks. However, since these projects are impacted by weather, it is difficult to precisely identify the start and finish dates. 
     
  9. Is it necessary to replace the roof in order to install a solar panel?
    If the existing roof is in good condition, the solar panel will be installed on the existing roof.
     
  10. What will be the impact on the school?
    During the solar panel installation, the contractors will be working mainly on the roof or inside the electrical room. Therefore, the impact on the school will be minimal.
     
  11. What precautions are taken to ensure the safety of students and staff?
    The project supervisor will arrange a pre-construction meeting with the school principal, head caretaker, Facilities team leader and contractor to discuss the project details. This includes schedule, access routes, health & safety, security, communication, working hours, use of facilities, lockdown procedures, fire alarms, emergency contacts, contractor’s staff identification, police reference checks, etc. In addition, the following safety precautions will be taken: 
    • The contractor will be erecting a construction fence containing a construction bin, portable toilet and stair tower to access the roof. All work areas will be closed off at the end of each day.
    • Equipment deliveries are scheduled before 7 a.m., after school or weekends.
    • When a delivery truck is backing up on the school property, a flagman will be walking behind the truck to ensure the safety of students and staff.
    • All contractors will carry an I.D. badge; they won’t have direct contact with students.

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