Mt Alvernia Prep reaps dividends from installation of $7-million solar systemThursday, August 05, 2021
BY HORACE HINES
MONTEGO BAY, St James — The decision to install a solar system at the Mount Alvernia Preparatory School at a cost of $7millon, which forms part of the school's plan to reduce utility expenses, has begun to reap dividends for the Montego Bay-based institution.
According to Therisa Cherian, the school's principal, the solar system was commissioned into service on January 4 this year, a month after its acquisition.
“To tell you the truth, when we got our first monthly bill we couldn't believe the amount that we got. It was $1,800 and it is coming from between $130,000 to $150,000, depending on the amount of usage. We tend to use a lot during the summer when it is hot and all the fans are on, the AC (air conditioner) is on, and stuff like that.”
“But now it (the solar system) has shown us how important it is to promote solar energy. Yes, the initial cost was high, but we went ahead and got this done,” said the school principal.
Cherian was speaking to the Jamaica Observer West last week, during a ceremony at the school to commission the solar system as well as to honour the school's top performing boy and girl in the recent Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations.
She noted that the decision to invest in solar energy had long been taken as part of the school's development plan, but was eventually set into motion following the drying up of revenue in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“This has been one of the plans in the school's development plans. It was in the pipeline for a while, but this pandemic made us realise that our budget was being squeezed by the utility bills,” she contended.
“And so we just took a plunge. We didn't really have the funds, but we took a loan and we got this project going.”
With the solar energy project now out of the way, the school is turning its attention to another utility cost saving initiative — a rain harvesting project — designed to reduce the school's water bill.
“I think our next project will have to be something about our water supply. We have to harvest the rainwater and we have to have storage tanks, put in all the pipes so that we can harvest that rainwater because with COVID we will be using a lot of water for sanitation,” she argued.
Stressing the need to harvest rainwater she argued that it is shameful that the natural commodity is allowed to run to waste and at times is a source of disaster in the form of flooding.
“And so we really need to think ahead and also harvest the rainwater because it is a shame to know all that water is running away and causing all kinds of damage later on in flooding and all that. So if we could harvest it, then we could do it for all our cleaning purposes, flush our toilets, watering the plants, especially when there is a drought; and so on. So things can still go on and we can still realise a good amount of savings from that. The utility bills have been indeed very, very high and we can use the savings to develop the school,” the seasoned educator reasoned.
Cherian, in defending the need to equip the classrooms with air-conditioning units, noted that the doors and windows have to remain closed to shut out the distracting noise emanating from the vehicles in the traffic traversing the roadway, which lies in close proximity to the school.
“We have to air condition the classrooms because of the sound that is created by this heavy traffic. And so, to know that the children do very well despite this noise, speaks well for the teaching that takes place here,” she told the Observer West.
Meanwhile, the first segment of last week's function was dedicated to awarding Alana Gooden and Raheim Downes, the school's top girl and boy Primary Exit Profile (PEP) performers. Downes will matriculate to Campion College, while Gooden moves on to Mount Alvernia High School.
Chairman of the school board, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Yvonne Whyte Powell, saluted the students who attended Mount Alvernia Prep School and have excelled.
“Many of us may have many negative things to say about Jamaica and the Jamaican youngsters, but when we engage with them and we examine closely what the children are doing, we see that a generation is coming that we can all be proud of if we just help them a little along the way to go in the right direction,” DSP Whyte Powell remarked.