by Daniel J. Graeber
Edmonton, Alberta (UPI) Oct 27, 2016
The provincial government in Alberta said it's responding to student interest by making funding available for solar panels at dozens of school projects.
"We have heard directly from students from across Alberta and their message is clear -- they want us to be leaders on climate change," Minister of Education David Eggen said in a statement.
The provincial government said total investments in solar power installations at 36 school projects will be at least $6.7 million. Costs vary by district and project.
Alberta's government issued a request in early October for information on the potential costs and the best way forward toward using solar power for half of government operations. Three contracts to power government-owned buildings are on the books, but two of those are set to expire before the end of 2017.
In September, a five-member task force was appointed by the provincial government to help steer research, development and deployment of technology that could be used to advance a low-carbon economy in Alberta.
The government said deploying solar panels at area schools was a recommendation made by students who were looking for the province to show it's committed to the fight against climate change.
The school initiative is voluntary. The government said it was setting up a committee to evaluate the impact of the solar power installations with a goal of expanding the program over time.
Alberta lies at the heart of the Canadian oil sector and lower crude oil prices have resulted in a 3.7 percent contraction for the provincial economy.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has embraced a greener economic agenda than his predecessor.
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