“Santa Barbara schools’ solar panels only provide shade, not power.”

By Oliver Townsend Jun 3, 2024
Two Years After Installation, Solar Arrays at Six Santa Barbara Unified Sites Generating Nothing but Shade.jpegOrginal image from: https://www.independent.com/2024/06/03/two-years-after-installation-solar-arrays-at-six-santa-barbara-unified-sites-generating-nothing-but-shade/

After two years of installation, solar arrays at six Santa Barbara Unified School District sites are still not generating power, serving only as sources of shade. Despite having eight school sites with solar panels up and running, the district is awaiting final approvals to activate the remaining six sites. The original plan was for the solar project to provide 90 percent of the district’s power needs, saving millions in electricity costs, reducing emissions, and enhancing energy security. However, delays have hindered the completion of the project, with high schools like San Marcos and Dos Pueblos still awaiting activation.

Stalled Solar Arrays: A Waiting Game

Following the installation of 14,000 solar panels in 2022, the district expected all panels to be operational by now. However, delays in obtaining permission from Southern California Edison (SCE) have hampered progress. While the district is eager to move forward, SCE’s lack of response to tie-in requests has caused significant delays, leaving community members disappointed with the current state of the solar project.

Challenges and Roadblocks

The district’s efforts to get all solar panels online have been met with challenges, including delays in obtaining operational approvals and securing connections to the grid. Despite the district’s readiness to proceed, bureaucratic hurdles and unclear communications from SCE have hindered the project’s timeline. As the district awaits SCE’s response, the community remains hopeful for a resolution that will enable the full activation of the solar arrays.

Anticipated Benefits and Future Plans

Once all solar panels are online, the project is expected to provide the Santa Barbara Unified School District with 70 percent of its electricity needs. Additionally, recent funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Rebate program will support the district in transitioning to zero-emission school buses. With a commitment to cleaner energy and sustainability, the district is poised to make significant strides in reducing its carbon footprint and promoting environmental stewardship.

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