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News / Clark County News

Solar, battery projects in Clark County get $250K from state

By Lauren Ellenbecker, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 27, 2023, 1:54pm

To tackle the state’s ambitious clean energy goals, the Washington Department of Commerce is awarding millions to communities statewide to prioritize solar and battery storage.

Clark County groups will receive $252,950 for planning and installation projects, which will provide a clean backup power source for community buildings and reduce electrical grid strain.

The city of Vancouver will get $100,000 to plan for power resilience, a key step in furthering goals included in its Climate Action Framework. Battle Ground Public Schools will use $7,500 to design solar and battery storage at its Center for Agriculture, Science and Environmental Education in Brush Prairie. Peace Health Southwest Medical Center will receive $42,450 for solar and battery system pre-development.

The Port of Camas-Washougal will install systems at its administrative building and Grove Field airport with its $283,000 grant.

Clark County’s cut is a sliver of Commerce’s $35.4 million pool of funding, which supports 52 planning and 39 installation projects across Washington.

Commerce Director Mike Fong said these projects align with Washington’s larger initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 95 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, which requires moving to a completely clean electric grid by 2045. Solar and battery systems will also provide assurance in emergency situations.

During power outages, heating and cooling halts, as does medical equipment that requires a charge.

“Power outages impact everyone differently,” Fong said in a statement Wednesday. “Some of our most vulnerable community members face significant risks when the power goes out.”

Concurrently, the state is attempting to draw from a large pool of federal funding to further its clean energy pursuits, including the Environmental Protection Agency’s Solar For All Initiative. This competitive grant awards nonprofits and local, state and tribal governments funding to grow solar infrastructure in low-income and underserved communities.

“These investments in clean energy and resilience will help people receive the services they need most,” Fong continued, “whether that’s heating or cooling, medical care, or keeping devices charged so they can communicate and stay informed.”

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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Columbian staff writer