Power project lets school go off grid

Last updated 05:00 29/06/2012

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Lake Tekapo School will soon be able to go off the grid in times of energy crisis, thanks to an initiative from Genesis Energy.

The state-owned enterprise will spend $40,000 on installing photo-voltaic solar heating panels and a battery system inside the school, which could also be used as a back-up source of power.

Genesis Energy spokesman Richard Gordon said the initiative was part of its School Gen programme, which has benefited more than 46 schools in the past six years.

"All of the other schools have had solar panels installed, while the students also learn about renewable energy and conservation, but Tekapo is the first school who will receive a back-up battery system," Mr Gordon said.

"It's a pilot programme. We understand the Ministry of Education is very interested in it."

Mr Gordon said the back-up battery system would allow the school to run "off the grid" in times of energy crisis or shortage for up to five days.

Last year, the Government handed over ownership of the Tekapo A and B power stations from rival state-owned generator Meridian to Genesis in a bid to free up competition.

Mr Gordon said its decision to launch the new project in Tekapo was a way of giving back to the community.

"If there is a blackout, or a civil defence situation, the school will have the supplies necessary."

Lake Tekapo school principal Anna Roseingrave said it was an amazing initiative.

"Everyone in the school is really looking forward to this. It's such a big thing for a small school like ours. Already the community is thinking about the possibilities," she said.

Ms Roseingrave said the school would host an open day once Genesis completed the installation, while they were also looking forward to teaching the students about renewable energy and conservation.

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- The Timaru Herald

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