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Washington Department of Commerce Announces Grants To Strengthen Electric Grid

March 5, 2024
The 14 funded projects include battery storage systems and microgrids for more resilient clean energy.

The Washington State Department of Commerce has announced 14 grants worth about $8.1 million through the Clean Energy Fund (CEF) for projects related to innovative clean energy technologies, including BESS and microgrids, to expand the use of renewable energy in the state’s electrical grid.

“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,” said Commerce Director, Mike Fong.

The funds will not only support the planning and development of new projects but also construction of projects completing the design phase. The projects will create jobs, including positions in construction and specialized maintenance and operation.

  • $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 to explore the feasibility of adding three in-line 1 MW 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, the business arm of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe, to install a BESS enabling a resiliency hub for Tokeland.

Tribes, retail electric utilities, local governments and community organizations were eligible for grants in this funding round. 

The awarded projects aim to enable cross-cutting social, environmental and energy burdens on communities. The applicants expect increased energy resilience, opportunities to implement new technologies to replace aging infrastructure, and deploy innovative clean technologies in communities facing climate change impacts.

Ten of the awards were offered to new applicants and there was a mixture of new applicants, experienced applicants, and experienced applicants supporting new applicants in 2024. 

The Tulalip Tribes 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 applied for funding in this round for implementation of the previous work.

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

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