ENGIE North America has installed a microgrid at the Santa Barbara Unified School District in California that includes solar and battery storage capacity.
The on-site distributed energy resources will enable district to effectively tackle power outages and safety shutoffs, which have become a new normal in the state.
The new installation includes 4.2 MW of solar across 14 district locations and six microgrids with 3.8 MWh of battery energy storage. The project is expected to provide $6.47 million of value-added benefits due to the resilience it will offer. It is also expected to offset approximately 90% of the solar array sites' energy use with renewable energy.
"The SBUSD solar microgrids will serve as a model for school districts and other entities anywhere, including how to finance them in a straightforward manner that minimizes upfront costs and risks to the District while also reducing the District's electricity expenditure," said Stefaan Sercu, managing director Energy Solutions Americas at ENGIE. "It's also important to note that communities can now benefit from state and federal funding for projects like these."
With the recently passed federal Inflation Reduction Act, these type of project can make customer eligible for up to a 30 percent tax credit on the cost of solar and storage projects.
"The scope for this program is one of the first for a school district in California," Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado. "This is a community that has been continually impacted by wildfires and subsequent power shutoffs, mudslides and other natural disasters. This project will be critical in the district's efforts to preserve power where it can, as well as provide a fiscally responsible power insurance policy that will ultimately aid the entire community."