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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 3:48 pm | A Few Clouds 62º


Santa Barbara County’s New $5.2 Million Solar Panel System Up and Running

The array, installed on the hillside behind the jail, is designed to cut electricity costs and carbon emissions

Santa Barbara County is aiming to reduce its carbon footprint and cut electricity costs with the recent installation of a $5.2 million array of solar panels on the hillside behind the County Jail.

The electricity generated by the project is currently being used to power many county buildings, such as the jail, the Sheriff Administration office, the 9-1-1 call center, the Election Office, the Clerk Recorder Assessor office, and the mental and public health hospitals, according to county energy manager Roy Hapeman.

Hapeman said the array is expected to generate 1.7 million kilowatt-hours of power per year — an amount sufficient enough to power 100 homes — and will account for about a third of the energy needed to fully power the site.

The 4,500 panels used in the array were constructed by Solar World in Camarillo and installed by Santa Barbara-based Endelos Energy Inc.

Construction for the project began in September 2011, but it was not up and running until May.

The county was able to finance the installation using money from federal Quality Energy Conservation Bonds, a debt policy that allows local and state governments to borrow money from the federal government to fund energy conservation-related projects. The bonds have a 15-year term with an effective rate of 1.2 percent.

The county will also receive a $1.7 million rebate from the California Solar Initiative.

Hapeman said the county expects to save about $12 million in electricity costs throughout the system’s operation and reduce its carbon emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 150 cars off the road or planting 20,000 trees a year.

Noozhawk intern Patrick Kulp can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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