At a luncheon on Tuesday, February 16, Westmont College unveiled its new green, solar-powered community in Las Barrancas neighborhood.
After the Tea Fire damaged 27 homes and destroyed 14 others, Westmont began the arduous task of rebuilding the faculty housing neighborhood, but this time with sustainability in mind. The area is reportedly the first entirely solar community and the largest residential solar project in Santa Barbara County.
The energy that the homes will generate is estimated to exceed 157,000 kilowatt hours a year. This will not only power the entire community’s electrical needs, but also eliminate more than 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide from the environment. Ben Seibert, CEO of Planet Solar Inc., explained, “That’s the equivalent of removing more than 10 million car miles off the roads over 25 years of service.” Seibert claims the solar panels will last forever and only need to have their inverters replaced once every 15 years.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has played a vital role in supporting Santa Barbara’s efforts to focus on sustainable development and recently has helped to institute the Fossil Free by ’33 program that proposes Santa Barbara go carbon-neutral by the year 2033.
Santa Barbara County lies within a model region for renewable-energy projects as it is surrounded by the ocean and has plentiful amounts of both wind and sun which can all be converted into different sources of energy.