State grants $10.6 million for energy efficiency and solar projects
Funds will lower energy costs in public buildings and create an estimated 531 jobs
The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced over $10 million in energy efficiency and solar grants to help reduce energy costs at eight higher education institutions, 32 local governments, four state agencies, and eight K-12 public school districts.
Construction spending on these projects will create an estimated 531 jobs. The total cost for all the projects is about $54.2 million, including more than $42.2 million in non-state funds.
“Commerce helps strengthen communities by making meaningful investments in public facilities,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the state Department of Commerce. “These grants will create jobs now, save taxpayer money by reducing energy use and operating costs over the life of the projects, and contribute to these communities’ energy resilience. I’m proud that Washington State continues to lead in energy policy and action to secure our clean energy future.”
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.
“Conversion to LED street lighting could cut energy use by almost 60 percent, and this grant is an extremely valuable piece of the business case to convert,” said Scott Stanford, energy adviser for Chelan PUD in charge of the utility’s project. “Energy savings from the street lights in the city of Wenatchee and rural Chelan County alone will be enough to power 39 local homes.” Unlike older street lights, LED bulbs can burn for 20 years before they need to be replaced.
Since the energy efficiency and solar grants program started as the Jobs Act in 2010, 221 projects have been funded with a total of $113 million. Nearly 1,800 jobs were reported, and community energy savings are estimated at nearly $11 million.
The grants are awarded through a competitive process and must be used for only energy and operational cost saving and solar installations. These new projects were selected from 64 grant applications requesting over $13.3 million.
Commerce awarded $7.5 million for energy efficiency projects and $3.1 million for solar photovoltaic and solar thermal projects.
Commerce will hold another round of competition for approximately $8.6 million in grants in spring 2017. For more information, visit the Energy Efficiency page on the Commerce website.