Washington State Department of Commerce

06/17/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/17/2024 17:56

Climate Commitment Act dollars at work: Commerce awards $72.6 million for community decarbonization work in 24 counties

Climate Commitment Act dollars at work: Commerce awards $72.6 million for community decarbonization work in 24 counties

Grants fund 71 projects including solar, hydrogen fueling, microgrids and more in communities most impacted by carbon pollution and climate change

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Gov. Jay Inslee (right), King County Wastewater Operations Manager Rebecca Singer, and King County Executive Dow Constantine speak at the Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station, which received CCA funding.

SEATTLE - The Washington State Department of Commerce today announced $72.6 million for 71 grants for community clean energy projects across Washington that advance environmental justice and equity. The funding will benefit communities in 24 of Washington's 39 counties through solar projects, hydrogen fueling, electricity microgrids and more. Funded by Washington's Climate Commitment Act, these clean energy grants are part of a more than $117 million opportunity, which included $7.5 million for a tribal clean energy fund announced in May.

"This CCA funding is putting people to work on projects in communities most harmed by climate change and ultimately helping us provide cleaner air to all our children," said Washington Governor Jay Inslee. "The response to these grant programs is an exciting sign of how eager businesses and organizations are to design and build clean energy and climate resilient assets for their communities."

"These awards get money into the hands of people who can immediately put it to use fighting climate change," said Commerce Director Mike Fong. "These communities were empowered to use their own discretion to create projects that meet their needs, which will improve outcomes for everyone in Washington."

See the full list of projects.

Prior to the award announcement today, Inslee joined King County Executive Dow Constantine, Commerce officials, members of the Duwamish River Community Coalition and others for a tour of the county's innovative Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station. The facility, completed in 2022, helps to control, treat, and disinfect up to 70 million gallons per day of combined stormwater and sewage that previously overflowed, untreated, into the Duwamish River during heavy rains. The facility will use a $200,076 grant to install a large solar photovoltaic (PV) array on site that will help offset the increased energy used by the ultraviolet (UV) disinfection treatment technology.

"Gov. Inslee continues to strengthen Washington's reputation as a climate leader, enhancing our newest climate-resilient infrastructure by making it even more energy efficient," said Constantine. "The state's Climate Commitment Act is a force multiplier, investing in solutions here in King County and throughout our state to create a more resilient, sustainable future for all."

See Commerce's photos and videos from today's tour.

View the King County photo gallery.

The smallest award announced today is $77,000 to support a feasibility study for municipal solar projects in Toledo, while the largest is $2.75 million for carbon-free fertilizer in Connell. The Connell project is in a low-income and mostly Spanish-speaking community, and it has an additional $9.25 million investment from the awardee.

Overall, projects vary from feasibility studies to microgrid development, installing solar panels paired with energy storage and facilitating greenhouse gas reductions from hard-to-decarbonize sectors such as industrial processes. Awardees include local governments, schools, nonprofits, private businesses, tribes and others. All of the projects had to include environmental justice angles - that is, they had to benefit the people most impacted by climate change, who are typically lower income and people of color.

Many of these groups had little or no experience with applying for these type of grants or conducting the kinds of engineering and technical feasibility studies necessary. That's where Commerce's technical assistance came in. Commerce contracted with Cascadia Renewables and Sazan Group to provide experts to consult with communities and complete feasibility studies to get project proposals ready to successfully apply for funding.

"I didn't really understand what I was getting into," said Ann Mayer of the process. Mayer is the director of children's and family ministries at Federal Way United Methodist Church. The church received $872,403 for solar and storage at the church and its associated daycare, and technical assistance to complete its application. "There was a lot of technical stuff I didn't know, and they there to support me and answer questions the whole way. … I couldn't have done it without their help, quite honestly."

The church is in an area with a high number of immigrants and historically marginalized people, and its services extend beyond its congregation. With the new solar and storage system, the church plans to become a regional emergency shelter and food distribution facility in the event of a natural disaster or grid disruption. Funds saved through the project's installation will support the church's numerous programs and services, including a free store, food service program, and utility payment support fund.

The Federal Way UMC submitted a plan based on its need - as was the program's goal. Awardees were asked to submit proposals that met the needs of their communities - rather than forming their project to prescriptive award rules. Commerce's Energy Programs in Communities (EPIC) unit designed three award streams to support communities facing different climate threats. They created the strategy using community feedback and had community reviewers assist with evaluating applications to ensure a broader perspective. That resulted in the selection of 71 unique projects benefitting unique communities.

"If we want to successfully address climate change, we need to center the voices of underrepresented community members," said community reviewer Shalimar Gonzales, who lives and works in King County. "The opportunity to provide a community review lens on grant applications was a great way for Commerce to center those that are feeling the pain of climate change first, worst, and longest."

More information about Clean Energy Grant Programs is available online. EPIC designs, develops, and implements initiatives that enable communities to be part of the clean energy transition.

Awards for a general clean energy solicitation will be announced later this summer.

All of these funding opportunities are funded by Washington's Climate Commitment Act (CCA). The CCA supports Washington's climate action efforts by putting cap-and-invest dollars to work reducing climate pollution, creating jobs, and improving public health. Information about the CCA is available at www.climate.wa.gov.

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