Commerce awards $11.8 million for local energy efficiency and solar projects

Grants will lower energy costs in public buildings and create an estimated 514 jobs in communities across Washington state

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced $11.8 million in energy efficiency and solar grants to help reduce energy costs at six higher education institutions, 27 local governments, four state agencies and 15 K-12 public school districts. Commerce awarded $8.3 million for energy efficiency projects and $3.4 million for solar photovoltaic projects. See the full list of projects.

Construction spending on these projects will create an estimated 514 jobs. The total cost for all the projects is $51.9 million, including $39.8 million in non-state funds.

“Investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency are vital to creating strong, resilient communities all over Washington state,” said state Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “These grants create good jobs, save taxpayers money by reducing energy use and operating costs over the life of the projects, and help secure our clean energy future.”

“Kettle Falls as a small community appreciates the continued support of the Department of Commerce in affording us the opportunity to use renewable energy and furthering our goal of reducing our expenditures,” said Kettle Falls mayor Dorothy Slagle.

“Thanks to a grant award of $324,524, the South Kitsap School District will be able to perform in excess of $1.3 million in facility improvements at 10 locations. We are excited for this, our fourth round of energy saving projects, and continue our efforts to achieve maximum energy efficiency,” said Superintendent Karst Brandsma. “With these improvements, we expect to see more than $66,000 annually in energy savings. These types of funding programs are very important, and we wish to thank the Department of Commerce for their support.”

The grants are awarded through a competitive process and must be used for energy and operational cost saving and solar installations.

The 2015 Legislature appropriated $25 million for the statewide energy efficiency and solar grants program, specifying at least $5.7 million for projects that involve the purchase and installation of solar energy systems with a preference for Washington-manufactured systems. It also targeted small cities and towns (populations of 5,000 or less) to receive at least 10 percent of each competitive funding round.

The city of Camas received three separate local energy efficiency grants in earlier funding rounds: two for facilities upgrades and one to convert street lights to LED.

“One facility HVAC upgrade has already shown savings of over $26,500 per year for the first two years – 55 percent more per year than projected!” said Steve Wall, Camas public works director. “The second facility and LED street lights are expected to save an additional $100,000 and $22,000 per year, respectively. The Department of Commerce provides terrific support throughout the process and the savings generated have allowed the city to invest in other important services and projects that are underfunded,” he added.

For more information, visit the Energy Efficiency page on the Commerce website.


Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106


NEWS RELEASE: State awards $14 million to increase number of psychiatric care beds

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced over $14 million in grants to 11 health care providers to develop additional facilities for short-term inpatient psychiatric detention services and state mental hospital diversion. The state’s investment is supported with another $14.6 million from other funding sources.

The grant recipients are:

Short-Term Inpatient Psychiatric Detention Services:
· Excelsior Youth Center – Spokane, $240,881
· Great Rivers Behavioral Health – McCleary, $2,000,000
· Kitsap County Department of Human Services – Bremerton, $1,248,150
· Telecare Corporation – Pierce County, $2,000,000
· Thurston Mason Behavioral Health Organization – Shelton, $984,969

State Mental Hospital Diversion:
· American Behavioral Health Services, Inc. – Chehalis, $755,103
· Columbia Wellness – Kelso, $2,000,000
· Excelsior Youth Center – Spokane, $1,759,119
· RI International – Fife, $928,835
· Sunrise Services – Everett, $2,000,000
· Upriver Place – Spokane, $108,916

The funds are for construction and equipment costs associated with establishing facilities needed to accommodate increased psychiatric admissions as a result of changes to Washington State’s Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA) that took effect in 2012 and for the development of facilities that provide for the diversion or transition of patients from the state hospitals. Patients treated are individuals with a mental disorder who may be gravely disabled or pose a danger to themselves or others, and who refuse or are unable to enter treatment on their own.

“These projects add much needed public mental health capacity in these communities and surrounding areas. We continue to build on previous investments to transform the way we think about and deliver services for people with debilitating mental illness,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.

“Meeting the needs of vulnerable populations is a cornerstone for strengthening communities,” said Brian Bonlender, Director of the Department of Commerce. “A shared commitment by public-private partnerships such as these is essential to maintaining the high quality of life that makes Washington a sought-after destination for families and employers from all over the world.”

The grants were awarded through a competitive process conducted by Commerce, the Washington State Department of Health, the Department of Social and Health Services, and the Health Care Authority. The projects must maintain the beds or facility for the intended use for at least 10 years.

Mental health bed grants are for hospitals or other entities to establish new services through the publicly funded mental health system such as:
· Community hospital inpatient psychiatric beds
· Free-standing evaluation and treatment facilities
· Enhanced service facilities
· Triage facilities
· Crisis stabilization facilities with 16 or fewer beds
· Secure detoxification facilities and co-occurring treatment facilities
· Transitional facilities

Contact: Penny Thomas, Commerce Media Relations, 206-256-6106