10/26/2016 14:46 EDT | Updated 10/27/2017 01:12 EDT

Alberta government to spend at least $9 million for solar-powered schools

CALGARY — The Alberta government plans to spend at least $9 million to install solar panels on schools across the province.

Funding will initially be available for 36 new schools that are in the planning and design phases.

Cost are estimated to range from about $250,000 to $750,000 per project, depending on the size of the school and other conditions.

Education Minister David Eggen and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips made the announcement at a Calgary junior high school that installed 40 solar panels on its roof in 2014.

Phillips says in addition to reducing greenhouse emissions, the project is a good opportunity for students to learn about solar power and climate change.

Eggen says he expects there to be a lot of interest from school boards in the voluntary program.

"This program is just the start and we are having many more conversations with students, with our school leaders about how we can all work together to reduce greenhouse gas pollution that causes climate change and also to diversify our economy and build a sustainable energy future for the province of Alberta," he said Wednesday.

The money for the program will come from education capital funding.

"I just wanted to demonstrate that we're putting our money where our mouth is in regards to climate leadership, in terms of education around these things and I think that it's a really exciting announcement today."