Cars are parked beneath a covering of solar panels (a solar panel array) at Goleta Valley Junior High School.
Cars are parked beneath a solar panel array at Goleta Valley Junior High School. Credit: Courtesy photo

Construction of a solar array (multiple solar panels that produce electricity) is underway at the facilities lot of the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) District Office.

The structure is expected to be finished in a week and completely wired in two weeks, SBUSD staff told School Board trustees recently in an update report about solar construction progress at several school sites.

The District Office will be one of six sites with microgrids, which means each location will have battery storage. Assuming it’s sunny, the microgrids will be able to power those sites indefinitely, the district said.

The microgrids are at La Cuesta Continuation High School, Santa Barbara High School, San Marcos High School, Dos Pueblos High School, La Cumbre Junior High School, and the District Office. The systems will be operating by September or October.

Work is continuing on solar arrays at other school sites as well. Cleveland and Monroe elementary campuses will go through the inspection and tie-in process on Feb. 17. Project managers chose the best day for the schools to minimize the disruption to students, faculty and staff.

Roosevelt Elementary is expected to receive a permit to operate its solar array soon.

The solar arrays at Adams Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Goleta Valley Junior High School, La Colina Junior High School, and Santa Barbara Junior High School are currently up and running.

“I want to thank Desmond Ho, Jose Jimenez, Marina Verdian, and the facilities team at Santa Barbara Unified for their hard work and dedication to the solar array project,” said Superintendent Hilda Maldonado. “We are glad to see the progress on this work and look forward to completing it in the coming months.”

Construction on the project began in 2021. Once finished, 14 solar arrays with six microgrids will have been installed throughout the district.