Santa Barbara officials expect 4,500 solar panels currently being installed on a seven-acre parcel near the County Jail to begin generating power late next month in a project they hope will reduce the county’s annual carbon footprint by up to 850 tons per year.
The project — a one megawatt photovoltaic system springing up on a hillside to the northeast of the detention facility — will help power the county’s Calle Real campus, which contains the Sheriff’s Department and jail, as well as several other departments, like Public Health and County Elections.
The panels are expected to provide about one-third of the power the campus needs, according to energy manager Roy Hapeman, and the complex uses roughly 20 percent of all the electricity consumed by county operations.
The Board of Supervisors approved the project, which is expected to save the county $6.8 million over a 30-year period. It will take the county about 15 years to pay off the little more than $5 million in federal bond money being used to fund for the project.
The contractor is Endelos Energy Inc. from Buellton.