A newly installed EV ARC 2020 charging station by BEAM Global charges a vehicle in the Goleta City Hall parking lot.
A newly installed EV ARC 2020 charging station by BEAM Global charges a vehicle in the Goleta City Hall parking lot. (City of Goleta photo)

The Goleta City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to approve a solar photovoltaic project for City Hall.

The microgrid-ready, 210 kW project will include shade structures with solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations, financed through a hybrid power purchase agreement.

“This is a real exciting time to be here in Goleta and to see the fruition of so many things that we’ve put in motion, and now they’re finally coming together,” Councilman Kyle Richards said.

That, along with Goleta’s recent enrollment in Central Coast Community Energy, puts the city closer to its goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2030, which was established in 2017.

“This is really just the beginning,” Richards said. “The photovoltaic array at City Hall is one thing, but we’re also looking at battery storage and a microgrid and EV charging stations, so there’s more to come, but this is such a great step along the way.”

While the project, as it stands, is still reliant on grid voltage, which means City Hall would still lose power during power outages, it is microgrid-ready and there is the possibility of adding a battery storage program and microgrid controls in the future.

In the meantime, City Hall also has a backup generator in the event of a power outage.

The hybrid PPA approach to financing the project means that the site host — the city in this case — will enter a contract with a third party, Symbiont Energy LLC, to purchase the energy produced by the solar PV system. Sandbar Solar and Electric will be the engineering, procurement and construction contractor, designing and building the system on behalf of Symbiont Energy and the city.

According to the project’s staff report, Symbiont Energy will be funding the cost of installation and then, upon completion of the project, the city will lend the project $309,770 at a 2.2% rate of return over a 20-year term. The City Council also was required to set aside $94,500 for system removal in the unlikely event of a city default.

With that approach, the solar developer will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the system, as well as performance risk, component replacement and end-of-term removal.

Energy payments from the city also will depend on production of the system, so if the system is damaged or not producing energy, the city would not be obligated to pay and will receive energy from the utility as it currently does.

According to the staff report, presented by sustainability manager Cindy Moore during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the project will “significantly reduce the city’s carbon footprint and demonstrate leadership both locally and statewide.”

Mayor Pro Tempore James Kyriaco added that the project also will address public safety issues.

“We are in a disaster-prone area and our energy infrastructure is incredibly fragile,” Kyriaco said. “That has public safety impacts and community livability impacts that are just kind of frightening to think about if the worst-case scenario happened. … This is an important first step in a larger journey.”

The staff report stated that the project is expected to be commissioned by the end of December 2022, if not earlier.

The City of Goleta also announced Tuesday that it has deployed the first EV ARC 2020 in Santa Barbara County. The EV ARC is an off-grid solar-powered EV charging station that now occupies a single space in Goleta City Hall’s parking lot, at 130 Cremona Drive.

The charging station is available for public use to charge electric and hybrid plug-in vehicles at no charge with a ChargePoint account.

“We are looking forward to continuing the momentum in addressing climate change and creating a more sustainable, green Goleta,” Mayor Paula Perotte said in a press release.

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at sguentz@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Serena Guentz, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at sguentz@noozhawk.com.