Thanks to grants from the TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Grants Energy Technology Board (CCTGETB) 18 proposed solar projects, totaling $3.2 million, are set to get funding. The funding is part of $55 million that TransAlta is investing in the state as part of its deal to close the state’s largest, dirtiest coal-fired power plant by 2025, the Centralia plant.
Of the $55 million TransAlta is investing $25 million into clean energy technologies. The latest, $3.2 million, tranche of investments will include solar installations between 16 and 100 kilowatts in size at various locations including at a rural hospital, public school districts, and communities across the state. It also includes funding for the state’s first electric school bus. The power company also will invest $10 million through its Weatherization Board and $20 million through its Economic & Community Development Board.
Investments in solar and renewable energy are proving beneficial in the state. As early as 2015 every dollar invested in solar power resulted in $2.46 in economic benefits for the state in terms of more jobs and more.
“These solar projects will provide a renewable source of energy and provide a great educational tool for school districts and communities,” said Lori Schmitt, board member. “When reviewing the applications, it was also important to see that the energy savings, production credits and incentives can be used to support other aspects of the organization’s budgets. All projects will be utilizing made in Washington equipment and will provide for job opportunities.”
The agreement to close the Centralia plant’s 1.3 gigawatts of coal-fired electric generation was reached in 2011. Under the agreement TransAlta will close the first unit in 2020 and the second in 2025. It’s one of many places across the country where coal plants are closing, and increasingly earlier than planned as renewable energy becomes cheaper than coal and as states attempt to reduce their emissions.
The power company, which wholesales power to Washington State utilities, like Puget Sound Energy, began funding the boards in 2012 and began offering project funding at the end of 2015. It will make its last payment at the end of December 2023.
“TransAlta has more than 100 years of experience developing, owning and operating renewable power generation facilities,” said Bob Nelson, President of TransAlta USA. “We are meeting today’s power needs while advancing the cleaner energy technologies of tomorrow. The $25-million TransAlta is investing in the state of Washington to advance renewable energy projects, such as these 18 solar projects, is part of a shared vision with the Centralia Coal Transition Boards, the Energy Technology Board and of course the successful applicants. Congratulations to our partners on this important milestone.”Tweet