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Sun shines on school solar plan

Five Hedland schools are set to be transformed into “virtual power plants”, as part of the State government’s $5 million solar schools program for regions.

Education Minister Sue Ellery flew to Hedland last week to announce the project, with Baler Primary School, Cassia Primary School, Hedland Senior High School, Port Hedland Primary School and South Hedland Primary School among the 30 regional schools chosen for the program.

The initiative will see Horizon Power supply and install rooftop solar systems on schools across Western Australia, which Ms Ellery said would save money and provide learning opportunities for students.

“People, particularly in the Pilbara, have been campaigning about electricity prices in schools for some time now,” she said.

“The project will see schools save around 27 per cent of their energy costs — money which can be used elsewhere in the schools.”

The program is expected to create 12 new full-time jobs across regional WA during the 18-month construction period, and facilitate two new Aboriginal electrical apprenticeships. It’s also tipped to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2000 tonnes each year — the equivalent of taking about 400 cars off the road.

The initiative is part of the McGowan Government’s $200 million School Maintenance Blitz, announced in September 2019.

Member for Pilbara Kevin Michel said the initiative would deliver a cleaner, greener renewable energy future for Western Australians.

“Energy is a significant expense for our schools and this program will allow them to each save 27 per cent on electricity costs — collectively, that’s $1.7 million worth of savings each year.”

Other schools around the Pilbara will also form part of the project, including Baynton West Primary School, Karratha Primary and Senior High School, Millars Well Primary School, Pegs Creek Primary School and Tambrey Primary School.

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