Santa Barbara Microgrid to Provide Clean Energy Resiliency for Parking Garage, 911 Center and Library

Sept. 5, 2023
425-kW system combines solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage at the Grenada Garage. The microgrid will generate power for the garage, offices, 911 Call Center and offset electricity costs at the nearby Central Library.

The city of Santa Barbara has started construction on a microgrid expected to generate about 700,000 kWh of carbon-free electricity annually for municipal operations.

The 425-kW system combines solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage at the Grenada Garage parking area. The microgrid will generate power for the garage, Granada offices and the 911 Call Center while also offsetting electricity costs at the nearby Central Library.

The system will contribute to decarbonization goals for the city of Santa Barbara, but the microgrid also is designed to operate while disconnected from the main grid. Work began in late August, and completion and commercial operation of the microgrid are expected by next summer.

“This project is a win-win-win on economics, resilience and the environment,” Alelia Parenteau, the city’s sustainability and resilience director, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that it will make this critical facility more resilient while generating local, renewable electricity at a cost-effective rate.”

Santa Barbara city leaders have set a Strategic Energy Plan of goal of 100 percent renewable electricity for the entire community by 2030. The battery storage system being installed at Granada Garage was partially funded by the Self-Generation Incentive Program through utility Southern California Edison.

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The batteries will store electricity generated by the on-site solar array and then discharge the power for the facility at nighttime or when utility grid rates are most expensive.

The city of Santa Barbara’s long-term goal is to build more microgrids. The first project, for First Station 1, is expected to go online within a few months, generating electricity for the Fire Department and Office of Emergency Services.

City leaders also are exploring the potential for future microgrids at a water treatment facility and library complex.

Last year, energy developer ENGIE installed 4.2-MW in solar microgrids across the Santa Barbara Unified School District. The six sites connected a total of 3.8-MWh in battery energy storage duration capacity.

The Santa Barbara school microgrid project is expected to provide $6.47 million of value-added benefits due to the resilience it will offer. It is also expected to offset approximately 90% of the solar array sites' energy use with renewable energy

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About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.