Schools across the country, and especially in California, are increasingly powered by solar energy. Thanks to declining solar costs, going solar often saves schools substantial money, allowing them to redirect these funds to educating students.
Santa Barbara Unified School District should be next, joining neighboring districts in Santa Maria and Oxnard that are powered by the sun. As one of the largest landowners in the region, SBUSD’s decision to go solar would also help the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta reach their 100% renewable energy by 2030 goals.
Sign below today to urge Santa Barbara Unified School District to go solar.
To: Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Directors
Re: Solar panels for schools
Dear SB Unified Board Members,
Santa Barbara Unified School District is at the heart of our community, rearing future generations. We are proud to be a part of a city that is making significant progress toward reducing greenhouse gases.
However, Santa Barbara Unified School District is one of the biggest property owners in the region, and not one of the district buildings run on solar – yet.
We, the undersigned, urge SBUSD to commit to adding solar panels to existing schools and assigning a sustainability coordinator to maximize overall energy and water efficiency. It is time for our schools to run on sunshine. With the potential of making the switch at no cost to the district and gaining large cost savings, switching to solar is not only the right thing to do for the environment, but also for the bottom line of our district.
Switching to solar power significantly reduces electricity bills, leaving more money to spend on educational programs. For example:
- Santa Maria High School District added solar at four sites, saving $140,000 per year – with a projected $7 million over 25 years – at no cost to the district. They did this using a Power Purchase Agreement, in which a private company constructed solar carports and sold the solar power to the school district at a lower cost than the utility.
- Oxnard Union High School District went solar eight years ago and completed other energy and water efficiency projects at a savings of $430,000 per year.
Many districts are taking the equally important step of creating a new “Sustainability Coordinator” staff position to optimize energy and water efficiency. This position can often pay for itself (and more) by reducing costs. For example:
- Monterey Peninsula Unified School District established this position, saving $4.3 million since 2012.
Santa Barbara is at the end of Southern California Edison’s transmission line, making it vulnerable to power outages if a fire, earthquake, or mudslide destroy the lines into our region.
- Our schools played an important role during the horrific natural disasters related to the Thomas Fire and January 9 Debris Flow – serving as evacuation centers, a critical venue for emergency responders to update the public, and providing thousands of children and their families a way to get back to their daily routines.
- Solarizing our schools is the first step in making them even more resilient for any future disaster and allowing them to continue to serve as the core of our community.
As a central hub of our community – and one of the biggest local property owners – it is critical that SBUSD help lead efforts to move to clean energy. Switching to solar would:
- Help lead the charge toward reaching the 100% renewable energy goals of the Cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta.
- Send a clear message to students and the community that SBUSD is dedicated to making our region a cleaner, healthier place by eliminating reliance on dirty fossil fuel energy.
- Increase the integrity of the curricuum as many schools are also incorporating renewable energy into their science, technology, engineering and math lessons.
Thank you for your consideration.