Renewable energy is an important key to the future and its foundation in Santa Barbara County has taken a big step forward.
Construction on a new renewable energy resource project, also known as the Vallecito Energy Storage Resilience Project, began on Tuesday in Carpinteria near Foothill Road and Linden Avenue.
“VESR will provide foundational energy resilience to this highly transmission-vulnerable and disaster-prone area and will serve as a model that supports Santa Barbara County’s emissions reduction goals, drives regional economic development, and optimizes the performance and cost-effectiveness of the electricity grid,” Craig Lewis, executive director of Clean Coalition, told the News-Press.
The project provides resilience to the portion of Santa Barbara County known as the Goleta Load Pocket. It represents a good chunk of the 400 megawatts of energy storage that’s needed within the GLP, in conjunction with 200 megawatts of solar, to protect the region from a complete transmission outage. It will set the stage for the four additional utility scale battery projects expected to come online by March 2021.
The Goleta Load Pocket spans 70 miles of Southern California coastline, from Point Conception to Lake Casitas, encompassing the cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara (including Montecito), and Carpinteria.
This is important because the entire GLP area is currently served by one electrical substation, the Goleta Substation. This means there is only one transmission path through a mountainous region, which in the last few years has been subject to fires, mudslides and other disasters.
“If those transmission lines go down there’s pretty much almost no power in the area, so we are trying to fix that with the GLP microgrid which would serve the whole area,” Rosana Francescato, communications director for Clean Coalition, told the News-Press. “This project by itself will take care of 10% of the energy storage that’s needed for complete resilience in the area.”
The project also sets the foundation for a future microgrid in Carpinteria.
The Clean Coalition is also working with the Santa Barbara Unified School District to provide district schools with free solar power, plus storage through a power purchase agreement where the vendor takes all the cost. The coalition will be picking the vendor later this week.
“The Santa Barbara Unified School District puts no money down and actually they’ll be saving money from day one, because they’re going to have a fixed rate for this power purchase agreement while power costs from Southern California Edison would actually keep going up every year,” she said.
In addition, the Goleta Load Project, once completed with 100% resilience, will yield roughly $346 million in economic stimulation.
While aiming to increase the reliability and resiliency of the electricity grid, Clean Coalition’s mission is to accelerate the transition to renewable energy on a modern grid.