Solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage under construction at Granada Garage in Santa Barbara

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California Construction News staff writer

The City of Santa Barbara has started construction on a 425 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic system and battery energy storage system (BESS) at the Granada Garage. This project will generate, store, and supply electricity to the Granada Garage, Granada Offices, and the 911 Call Center while also reducing electricity costs at the Central Library across the street.

The project will produce approximately 700,000 kWh per year of clean renewable electricity, equivalent to powering over 150 Santa Barbara homes. In addition to increasing local renewable electricity capacity, project benefits include improved regional air quality and energy reliability, and supporting the local green energy industry.

This project is part of a broader municipal initiative to build microgrids, systems capable of both generating and storing electricity, at critical municipal facilities. Microgrids can operate while disconnected from the grid and continue to power these facilities, providing significant resilience potential during power outages and climate emergencies. The city’s first microgrid, at Fire Station 1 on West Carrillo Street, will go online within the next few months and will provide solar power as well as an undisrupted power supply to the Fire Station and Office of Emergency Services. The city is exploring the potential for additional microgrids at Cater Water Treatment Plant and the Franklin Neighborhood Center/Eastside Library complex.

The battery storage system at the Granada Garage project was funded in part through Southern California Edison’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). The batteries will store power generated by the on-site solar array and power the facility at nighttime or at times when electricity from the grid is most expensive.

“This project is a win-win-win on economics, resilience, and the environment,” said Alelia Parenteau, the city’s Sustainability and Resilience Director. “We are thrilled that it will make this critical facility more resilient while generating local, renewable electricity at a cost-effective rate. This project directly supports the city’s strategic energy plan goal of 100 percent renewable electricity for the entire community by 2030.”

The project is scheduled to be fully online by summer of 2024. The Granada Garage will remain open throughout the duration of construction, with the roof closed for several months and intermittent closures in localized sections. Project developers are coordinating closely with Downtown Parking staff and the Granada Theatre to minimize disruption during periods of high demand for parking.

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