Santa Barbara School District Approves Renewable Energy Project

The Santa Barbara Unified School District unanimously approved a plan for a new energy initiative at its last school board meeting, reported the Santa Barbara Independent. If completed, the district will install solar energy, battery storage, and electrical vehicle charging stations at school sites districtwide.

With an increase in natural disasters and public safety power shutoffs in Santa Barbara, the district is considering a renewable energy infrastructure that would allow district schools to serve its community during emergencies. Community members would be able to come to school sites to charge devices, eat and store perishable foods, and if needed during an evacuation, the schools would be able to power the site for 3-5 days.

The school board approved the first six steps of this renewable energy project. The steps involved partnering with two environmental firms — Clean Coalition and Sage Energy Consulting — to complete a feasibility study by June 2020. If the project is financially feasible, the district will negotiate a power-purchase agreement with the firms, move forward with construction, and have all infrastructure and systems running by 2022.

The Clean Coalition has been designing community microgrids, which are like smaller versions of the electric grid but “can serve entire communities by providing indefinite renewables-driven resilience to the most critical community loads — and serve all loads for significant portions of time.” The project includes 18 prospective solar-driven microgrid and electric vehicle charging stations throughout the district.

The initial project management costs involved in the first six steps is $287,900 and is being paid from the State Facility Grant Matching funds.

About the Author

Yvonne Marquez is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].