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South Coast Hydroelectric Power Plant Online For First Time In Years


For the first time in nearly a decade, a hydroelectric power plant on the South Coast is generating electricity.

Thanks to recent rainfall, water flowing through Gibraltar Reservoir is not only helping to meet the City of Santa Barbara’s water needs, it’s creating electricity.

Cathy Taylor is the City of Santa Barbara’s Water Systems Manager. She says the power plant went online in 1985, but was shut down in 1998, because operational costs exceeded revenue from the electricity. In 2013, the federal regulations were streamlined making it cost efficient to reopen the plant. It was ready in 2015, but there wasn’t enough water to run it. Now, it’s back online, creating enough electricity to serve the needs of 200 to 300 homes.

But,Taylor says the city’s water situation is still tenuous, because it’s relying on depleted state water and groundwater, and currently doesn’t have a water allocation from Lake Cachuma.