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Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative Launches

Energy system based on local renewables

Montecito Upper Village critical facilities with solar potential.
Montecito Upper Village critical facilities with solar potential. (Courtesy photo)

The World Business Academy and the Clean Coalition have launched the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative, which will bring renewables-driven energy resilience to critical facilities in Montecito, starting with the Fire Protection District and the Water District in Montecito's Upper Village.

A community microgrid is a new approach for designing and operating the electric grid, based on local renewables and other distributed energy resources like energy storage and demand response.

Although linked to the main electric grid, during a power outage, a community microgrid can isolate from the broader grid and provide indefinite renewables-driven backup power to critical facilities.

This scalable and replicable approach saves money, provides local economic stimulation, and provisions secure and stable clean local energy, even during disasters of any duration. Community microgrids deliver a trifecta of economic, environmental and resilience benefits across communities.

The Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative aims to build multiple community microgrids in the area, including along San Ysidro Road in the Upper Village and along Coast Village Road in the Lower Village.

The community microgrids will ensure the continuous operation of critical and priority facilities in the event of future disasters, as well as providing ongoing energy resilience to a region served by just one high-voltage transmission line.

Clean local energy production from the community microgrids also will advance the Santa Barbara community’s climate goals.

The Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative is an extension of the World Business Academy’s Santa Barbara Renewable, Reliable, Resilient (SBR3) Initiative and is an extension of the Clean Coalition’s Community Microgrid Initiative.

Together, the two organizations are primed to combine deep community relationships with leading technical, policy and project development expertise.
 
“Teaming with the Clean Coalition, with whom we’ve enjoyed a multi-year relationship, to focus on execution of the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative, will free the academy to continue working on microgrid installations throughout the Santa Barbara County area,” said Rinaldo Brutoco, World Business Academy president.

“The Clean Coalition has done a great job leading community microgrid efforts throughout the state and around the country and is uniquely suited to team with the Academy in Montecito," he said. "It is a great partnership that will benefit Montecito initially and other areas in Santa Barbara County in the future.”
 
“The Clean Coalition is honored to apply its expertise to help the Montecito community build back right with a modern energy system,” said Craig Lewis, executive director of the Clean Coalition.

“As the academy has been warning for many years, the area’s current electricity grid is extremely vulnerable to disruptions. Montecito Community Microgrids will bring energy security, resilience, and peace of mind to Montecito, along with tremendous environmental and economic benefits,” he said.
 
Philanthropist and long-standing academy supporter Sara Miller McCune has been convening meetings for Montecito residents and leaders to learn about the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative and get involved.

The Kind World Foundation, a leading supporter of the Santa Barbara first responder community, has made a $150,000 pledge to the Clean Coalition to match the next $150,000 in donations to the Clean Coalition for direct support of the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative.

The Recovery Project, an action group started after the Thomas Fire and the debris flow, is a key collaborator.

“The Recovery Project was created to step in after the first responders, addressing necessary ongoing community needs to support the rebuilding of our village," said Berna Kieler, founder of the Recovery Project.

"We see the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative as an essential element in creating a new Montecito, which is responsive to environmental reform and disaster preparedness,” Kieler said.

The initiative will provide a learning opportunity for local students and educators, who will have opportunities to be involved from the beginning in helping to create a living example of the energy system of the future.

The Clean Coalition is seeking a local program manager to work with Lewis, who is now based in Santa Barbara, to lead the technical and project management elements of the Montecito Community Microgrid Initiative.

Those interested can respond to the job description on the Clean Coalition website.

— Jennifer Goddard for World Business Academy and Clean Coalition.

Montecito Coast Village facilities with solar potential. Click to view larger
Montecito Coast Village facilities with solar potential. (Courtesy photo)
 

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