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: Solar Plus Regional Initiative Wins $2 Million Grant from US Department of Energy

powered-by-sunshot-twitter1-3Three-year joint effort to develop strategies for increasing solar energy, modernizing energy infrastructure in Washington and Oregon will launch this year.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Solar Plus, a joint effort of more than a dozen stakeholder groups in Washington and Oregon has been awarded a $2,050,000 SunShot grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to further deployment of solar energy in the Pacific Northwest. It is the largest of the 17 awards totaling $21 million announced today.

Washington State is also one of 11 states in the Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB), which received the second largest grant award of $2,020,000. The WIEB is based in Denver, CO.

The Solar Plus initiative will convene leaders from utilities, regulators, the Washington State Energy Office at the Department of Commerce, the Oregon Department of Energy, the solar industry and community-based organizations to develop a plan to tap into our region’s unique opportunities to develop solar and provide greater access.

The $2,050,000 grant is matched with additional cost-share commitments from partners. Over three years launching later this year, Solar Plus will look beyond energy generation to additional solar value streams, through three main focus areas:
· Deploying more community shared solar projects in the region
· Creating opportunities for increased resilience and access to solar for low-income communities
· Maximizing the social and electricity grid value of solar development

“Ensuring a clean energy future is vital to strengthening communities, and these awards recognize our leadership in renewable energy development,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “We are excited to guide this effort convened by Northwest SEED and supported by a diverse group of public and private partners representing the needs and interests of our entire region.”

“Solar Plus will equitably grow the solar market in the Northwest and move us towards the energy grid of the future. Our community-driven approach seeks to triple the amount of solar, decrease costs, and double the solar jobs in the region by 2020,” said Jennifer Grove, Executive Director, Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (Northwest SEED).

Solar Plus will advance the broad-based goals set forth in the 2016 Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future: diversify our energy generation, expand clean energy sources and modernize our energy infrastructure.
Contact: Penny Thomas, Commerce Press Office, (206) 256-6106