State grants $14 million for energy efficiency and solar projects

Funds will lower energy costs in public buildings and create an estimated 520 jobs

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced over $14 million in energy efficiency and solar grants to help five higher education institutions, 27 local governments, and four state agencies lower their energy costs.

An estimated 520 jobs will be created by construction spending on these projects.  The total cost for all the projects is about $53 million, including more than $35 million in non-state funds.

“There are enormous economic benefits to making sure the places we work, study and do business are energy efficient,” said Governor Jay Inslee. “I’m proud that state government is leading by example with meaningful investments that not only create jobs but save taxpayer money by reducing energy use and operating costs in public facilities. This is also a key strategy to reducing our carbon footprint.”

The 2013 Legislature appropriated $25 million for energy efficiency and solar grants to higher education, local governments and state agencies, specifying at least $5 million for projects using Washington-manufactured systems including solar modules and inverters.  It also targeted at least 10 percent of each competitive round for small cities or towns (populations of 5,000 or less).

“Saving taxpayer money all across Washington state is always a good thing,” said Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish), chair of the Capital Budget Committee. “Saving money while creating jobs is even better. This is a smart idea that will benefit the people of our state for decades.”

“Moving to cleaner, renewable energy sources is good for the environment and good for our economy,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “These grants support the Governor’s comprehensive climate action agenda and help to spur growth and employment in our clean energy sector.”

Examples of projects include Franklin PUD and the City of Pasco teaming up to change out 1,725 street lights.  The amber glow of out-of-date high pressure sodium lights is going away.  New brighter, whiter, energy-saving, light-emitting diode fixtures (LEDs) will save the city of Pasco $104,744 annually.  Unlike the old lights, LED bulbs can burn for 20 years before they need to be replaced.  When Franklin PUD and the City finish the job, almost all of City’s streetlights will be new.

Another is Green Lake Community Center, Seattle’s least energy efficient community center and indoor swimming pool.  Its utility bills are averaging 25 percent higher than the national average for similar buildings.  But that’s about to change.  The city of Seattle will soon be installing new roof insulation, boilers, controls, lighting, water conservation measures and a solar hot water system.  Green Lake Community Center will be saving $66,363 annually.

The grants were awarded through a competitive process and must be used solely for energy and operational cost saving and solar installations. Projects for Round One were selected from 61 grant applications requesting over $20 million.

First round grants include $11 million for energy efficiency projects and almost $3 million for solar photovoltaic and solar thermal projects:


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