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West Kootenay high school’s solar energy plans cancelled

A student plan for Mount Sentinel Secondary would have installed a solar array
Mount Sentinel Secondary has cancelled a student plan to instal a solar array at the school. Photo: Tyler Harper

A student-led initiative to install solar panels at a Kootenay high school has been scrapped due to rising costs and engineering hurdles.

Grade 12 students at Mount Sentinel Secondary, located between Nelson and Castlegar, had a plan approved by School District 8 in May 2021 to have a solar array installed on the school’s roof along with the first 10 panels. Future panels were to be added through annual fundraising by graduating students.

But the project stalled when an inspection found the school’s roof couldn’t support both the weight of the array and snow fall.

Mount Sentinel principal Shellie Maloff praised her students’ ambitions to make their school a little more eco-friendly.

“Obviously, we’re all really disappointed. It wasn’t feasible to go ahead. But at the same time, we’re also really determined to find another project to take its place.”

The approved plan would have seen the district fund $27,000 for the project, but the costs became too high as the project dragged on.

Chris Kerr, the district’s acting director of operations, said ground and wall-mounted options for the array were also considered but found to be too expensive.

“We went down all the avenues, there was no stone left unturned. And unfortunately, just with the available budget for the project, it just was not deemed feasible.”

The plan was set in motion by the school’s Green Team, which Maloff said is considering new legacy projects to work on.

“We’re hoping that we’ll see another group step up and do some ethical leadership to provide a next initiative.”


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Tyler Harper

About the Author: Tyler Harper

I’m editor-reporter at the Nelson Star, where I’ve worked since 2015.
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