Solar panels coming to more schools, public buildings statewide with latest round of Commerce grants

$1.4 million awarded to fund 14 projects that will produce sustainable energy and energy savings in communities across Washington state

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced $1.4 million in grants to state and local government agencies to install solar panels at public buildings in communities throughout the state. The 14 projects awarded funding in this round will support community efforts to move toward sustainable energy sources and result in long-term energy cost savings that can be reallocated to other needs.

  • City of Kent: $84,760 to install 65 kW at the Senior Activity Center.
  • City of Medical Lake: $210,867 to install 104 kW at the Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • King County Solid Waste Division (2 grants):
    • $64,291 to install 105 kW at Shoreline Recycling and Transfer Station
    • $70,000 to install 97 kW at Bow Lake Transfer Station
  • Lummi Nation: $98,672 to install 72 kW at Lummi Tribal School
  • Palouse School District: $188,874 to install 103 kW at Palouse High School.
  • Shoreline School District (3 grants):
    • $82,500 to install 124 kW at Syre Elementary School
    • $82,500 to install 145 kW at Shorewood High School
    • $82,500 to install 150 kW at Shorecrest High School
  • Silver Lake Water and Sewer District: $75,000 to install 135 kW at the water district headquarters
  • South Whidbey School District: $177,010 to install 100 kW at South Whidbey Elementary School
  • Spokane Public Schools: $76,072 to install 68 kW at Linwood Elementary School
  • Tumwater School District: $88,553 to install 78 kW at Black Hills High School
  • West Mason Fire: $54,570 to install 35 kW at West Mason Fire District 16

This program provides competitive funding to install solar at public buildings and facilities, helping to cut energy costs, reduce pollution and showcase solar in communities across the state. The built environment is the second biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, behind transportation. These grants will fund distributed clean energy for schools, affordable housing and critical public facilities in Washington communities.

“Without this help, a small city like ours would not be able to move toward redundant and alternative energy sources for our waste water treatment plant, which is vital to our community,” said Medical Lake Mayor Terri Cooper. “Once the solar array is in place, we will use the annual energy savings to support maintenance and operational improvements. Every dollar counts and these dollars are making a big difference for Medical Lake.”

Photo of rooftop solar array on the Civic Center building in Sequim WA

The City of Sequim received a grant in 2020 that enabled installation of 132 solar panels on the Civic Center roof, saving an estimated $3,700 annually and reducing the building’s carbon footprint by nearly 22 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.

“The Department of Commerce grant provides essential support so we can install the district’s first-ever solar project”, said West Mason Fire Chief, Matthew N. Welander. “The fire commissioners are very excited to move into an era of sustainable, earth-friendly energy. We are a small, volunteer fire district, and the savings from this project will allow us to invest more into improving our services to our community.”

Washington’s 2021 State Energy Strategy identifies community-owned solar as an important strategy for achieving clean energy and equity goals, especially for tribal and agricultural communities. The funded projects announced today include a tribal government and six rural communities. The State Energy Strategy also urges state and local agencies to lead by example with clean energy investments for public buildings that build local resilience. The projects awarded funding in this round total over 1.3 megawatts of solar and will produce more than 1.5 million kWh annually—equivalent to powering about 130 homes.

Applications are now closed for this grant program. A new program to install solar and energy storage at community buildings will open this winter.

Bookmark Commerce’s Energy webpage to watch for details and updates on all energy grant and loan programs.


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