Commerce invests $8.1 million to expand renewable energy use, strengthen Washington’s electric grid – Washington State Department of Commerce

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Funded projects include battery storage systems, microgrids for more resilient clean energy

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced 14 grants awarded through the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) that will expand the use of renewable energy in the state’s electrical grid. These projects are for numerous innovative clean energy technologies, including battery energy storage systems and microgrids.

“Commerce is dedicated to the state’s climate commitment goals, and to ensuring that those benefits are experienced across the state for all communities,” said Commerce Director Mike Fong. “These projects, which are primarily to organizations that haven’t received funding in the past, will result in a cleaner, more resilient and more just energy system while at the same time create construction, operations and maintenance jobs.”

“The project applicants for this round were exciting and support a variety of communities as they prepare for changing climate conditions,” said Energy Division Assistant Director Michael Furze. “Without funding through the CEF, these and other cutting-edge projects would not have occurred.”

The 14 selected proposals are representative of the critical role energy plays in every community. Funding supports the planning and development of new projects, as well as the construction of projects that have already completed the design phase. The projects will also result in new jobs, including construction and specialized maintenance and operation positions.

  • $128,000 to Clallam County PUD for the design of a microgrid at the Sequim substation, including incorporating existing solar panels, electric vehicle chargers, and communications assets.
  • $400,000 to Creative Energy to develop a resilient zero-carbon district energy system (DES) to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from connected buildings for the First Hill Initiative, which serves a core Seattle neighborhood and is integrated with Swedish Hospital’s First Hill campus.
  • $350,000 to City of Ellensburg for a smart grid solution for renewable energy deployment to the city’s electric utility.
  • $149,534 to Energy Northwest to study the technical and economic characteristics of a long-duration energy storage project study in Benton County.
  • $172,000 to Jefferson County PUD for the Port Townsend Pipeline Generation and Storage Study. The study will explore the feasibility of adding three in-line 1 megawatt hydro turbines to 30 inch water pipelines to supply spot loads for the planned electrification of the Port Townsend Ferry.
  • $250,000 to City of Langley for a feasibility study to implement solar- and battery-powered microgrids and begin preliminary design.
  • $149,534 to Lewis County PUD for the feasibility and early stage design of a solar and storage microgrid in Packwood.
  • $73,234 to PacifiCorp for a feasibility study to determine the scope, size and technical requirements for a microgrid to support emergency response and additional community and environmental benefits at State Fair Park in Yakima.
  • $200,000 to Puget Sound Energy for a regional planning project evaluating grid infrastructure in Kittitas County. It will also review community context, including wildfire risks and resiliency opportunities.
  • $245,700 to Puyallup School District to design a solar plus battery storage microgrid that improves the resiliency of Northwood Elementary School.
  • $1,753,155 to Swinomish Indian Tribal Community to equip a new residential community within the Swinomish Reservation with microgrids to address energy burden and support affordable housing demand.
  • $245,000 to Tacoma Power for a study to explore sustainable pathways for increased reliability and operational efficiency for power delivery to edge-of-grid service territories.
  • $2 million to Tulalip Tribes to install a microgrid for the Tulalip community at the Gathering Hall facility. This project builds on a previous Grid Modernization grant, with Snohomish PUD as the primary grantee.
  • $2 million to the Willapa Bay Enterprises (WBE), the business arm of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, to install a battery energy storage system enabling a resiliency hub for Tokeland.

Tribes, retail electric utilities, local governments and community organizations were eligible for grants in this funding round. The Grid Modernization Program prioritizes projects that serve vulnerable populations. The awarded projects aim to positively affect cross-cutting social, environmental and energy burdens on communities. Common narratives from applicants include increased energy resilience, opportunities to implement new technologies to replace aging infrastructure, and deploying innovative clean technologies in communities facing climate change impacts.

Ten of the awards were to new applicants. Over the years, the Grid Modernization Program has encouraged partnerships between grantees. This year, there was a mixture of new applicants, experienced applicants, and experienced applicants supporting new applicants, Furze said. The Tulalip Tribes, for example, partnered with Snohomish PUD in a previous funding round for its new microgrid, which was designed in part as a project for a Washington State University class. The Tribes decided to apply for funding themselves in this round for implementation of the previous work.

“We’re building strong partnerships along the way,” said Steven Hinton, a conservation scientist with the Tulalip Tribes.

These competitive grant awards are conditional upon the execution of final project agreements and performance-based contracts with Commerce.

Funding for the program is through the Clean Energy Fund. Since its inception in 2013, Clean Energy Fund investments have helped incentivize public and private utilities and their partners to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy technologies. For information on clean energy grant opportunities, visit www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/epic/

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About Commerce
Commerce works with local governments, businesses, community-based organizations and tribes to strengthen communities. The department’s diverse portfolio of more than 100 programs and effective public and private partnerships promote sustainable community and economic development to help all Washingtonians thrive. For more information, visit http://www.commerce.wa.gov. For information on locating or expanding a business in Washington, visit choosewashingtonstate.com

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