Washington State awards low-income solar project grants

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The Washington State Department of Commerce awarded $3.7 million in grants for nine solar projects under a Low-Income Solar Deployment Program.

Totaling 2.8 MW, the projects are expected to result in $6.1 million of energy savings over 25 years for low-income households and nonprofits serving low-income communities.

Commerce Director Lisa Brow said low-income households pay a disproportionately higher portion of their income for energy and are often in locations more likely to be impacted by harmful emissions and climate change.

“These projects will lower the energy burden of low-income communities while increasing renewable energy generation on the electric grid, both important steps toward achieving energy equity across Washington state,” said Brow.

In January, the commerce department and other state regulators adopted new rules to help implement Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act, which was passed in 2019 and sets the state on a path to carbon-neutral electricity by 2030 and 100% clean electricity by 2045.

The nine projects selected in the recent award include:

Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP): $243,000 to build a 121 kW installation at a community center. CCAP will use savings from the project to offset energy costs and provide more services to qualified low-income households across two counties.

HopeSource: $170,130 to install a 101 kW solar array on an affordable housing complex in Ellensburg. The production benefits will go directly to residents and also will offset the energy costs of a related community center.

Lummi Nation: $593,898 to install two solar PV systems on the Lummi Nation Administration Building and HeadStart Building, with a total capacity of 384 kW. Energy savings will lower the energy burden of the Lhaq’temish Foundation, which serves school, nonprofit, and tribal programs.

Image: Washington State Department of Commerce

Olympia Community Solar: $341,732 to install a 126 kW solar system at an affordable housing complex in Olympia. Generation from the solar project will offset residents’ electric bills.

Opportunity Council: $179,324 to install a 100+ kW solar PV system to serve a food bank and help cut its annual energy costs; savings will be redirected to buy food and supplies for the community.

Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO): $1 million to build a 1.2 MW community solar array on San Juan Island. OPALCO will use benefits from the array to offset energy costs for low-income service providers, and to increase credits provided to offset low- and moderate-income households’ energy bills.

Puget Sound Energy (PSE): $207,932 to install a 243 kW community solar project on the Olympia Center in downtown Olympia. PSE will direct project benefits to low-income households and affordable housing providers across the city, and to the Olympia Center’s nonprofit tenant.

Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD): $861,814 to install a community solar project in south Everett. The PUD will donate related generation credits to an energy bill assistance program for county residents.

Yakima Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity: $112,600 to install a 119 kW solar project on the nonprofit organization’s storefront in downtown Yakima. Energy savings over the life of the project will support construction of new homes.

The Low-Income Solar Deployment Program is part of Washington’s Clean Energy Fund. Since it was established in 2013, the fund has invested more than $131 million in projects and clean energy job creation.

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