Commerce awards $388,000 to help convert Larch Corrections Center from oil to renewable wood energy

  • May 24, 2021

Clean Energy Fund grant program supports conversion of old oil and propane furnaces and boilers in public facilities to renewable wood biomass fuel.

 OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced a $388,000 award to the Washington State Department of Corrections through the Wood Energy for Public Facilities program, part of Washington state’s Clean Energy Fund (CEF). It’s the first CEF project aimed at converting a state facility to renewable wood biomass fuel. Funding will be used to install a modern, efficient wood energy system at the Larch Corrections Center near Yacolt in eastern Clark County to offset the use of fuel oil for area heating and hot water.

Forest harvest waste from nearby federal, state and private timberlands will fuel the boiler, creating value for low-grade forest biomass produced through forest management activities. This project will also increase energy resilience for the facility, and act as a model for future projects in the region by demonstrating the social, environmental and economic benefits of wood energy.

“This project is the first of its kind among state facilities in Washington,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Supporting the use of renewable wood biomass sources reduces greenhouse gas emissions while supporting jobs that strengthen rural timber communities.”

“We here at the Department of Corrections are very grateful to Lisa Brown and the Department of Commerce for these funds,” said Corrections Secretary Cheryl Strange.  “This project brings us closer to a Washington that works on clean energy and a future free from products that harm our environment.”

This competitive grant award is conditioned upon the execution of a final project agreement and performance-based contract with Commerce. Grants awarded through the wood energy program are designated for public entities undertaking projects that convert furnaces and boilers fueled by oil or propane to wood biomass fuel. Broader program goals include enhancing forest ecosystem function, and supporting energy resilience and forestry jobs in rural, timber-dependent communities.

Buildings represent approximately one-fifth of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions with the greatest proportion coming from natural gas and other fossil fuels for space heating, water heating and cooking. Washington’s 2021 State Energy Strategy identifies energy efficiency in buildings as an essential part of meeting the state’s decarbonization goals. Investing in energy efficent updates to public buildings aligns with Governor Inslee’s State Efficiency and Environmental Performance (SEEP) Executive Order 20-01 and represents the most cost-efficient way to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and state and local government spending on energy.

For information on this and other Clean Energy Fund grant opportunities, visit www.commerce.wa.gov/CEF.

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