The Washington State Department of Commerce last week announced $3.5 million in grants to state and local government agencies, including the Eatonville School District, to install solar panels at public buildings in communities throughout the state. The 29 projects will provide over 2.2 megawatts of solar and will produce more than 3 million kWh annually — enough to power about 280 homes.
The Eatonville School District was awarded $165,292 for the Eatonville High School Solar PV to install 66 kilowatts.
Solar grants provide competitive funding to install solar at public buildings and facilities, such as schools, hospitals, community centers and wastewater treatment plants, according to a press release. 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. It also urges state and local agencies to lead by example with clean energy investments for public buildings that build local resilience.
“Supporting solar projects in public buildings is one of the many ways Washington state is leading by example as we work toward meeting our goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2050,” Commerce Director Lisa Brown said in the release. “These grants prioritized projects in rural and tribal communities, to ensure all state residents benefit from a cleaner more efficient electric grid.”
The awarded projects include three by tribal governments and five projects in small communities with populations under 5,000. These grants will fund distributed clean energy for schools, affordable housing and critical public facilities in Washington’s communities.
This competitively scored grant process prioritized projects with lower costs and higher savings, as well as matching funds provided by applicants and new grantees. Another approximately $1 million for solar projects will be awarded through this program in 2022. The next application cycle is expected to open in the first quarter this year.
Solar grants are one of several funding opportunities under Commerce’s Energy Retrofits for Public Buildings program, which provides grants to towns, cities, tribes and other state and local governments to make energy updates to community buildings and facilities. To learn more, visit www.commerce.wa.gov/growing-the-economy/energy/energy-retrofits-for-public-buildings/.
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