Washington tribes receive millions in state funding for clean energy

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(The Center Square) – Washington officials announced Tuesday that the state will send $7.5 million in carbon auction revenue to five tribal initiatives.

The funding is a part of the state’s Tribal Clean Energy Grant Program, which, over the course of its life, will provide $16 million in funding generated through the Climate Commitment Act.

The CCA is a state program intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Passed in 2021, the cap-and-trade program allows entities to purchase emission “allowances,” which the state then uses to fund clean energy projects and environmental justice. According to prior reporting from The Center Square, it’s raised more than $2 billion since passing.

“The Climate Commitment Act recognizes that communities will not feel the effects of climate change equally,” Department of Commerce Director Mike Fong said in a news release. “We know that there is a history of government assuming it knows best when it comes to what communities need, and we’re intentionally reversing that thought process. We hope this is the first of many funding opportunities that responds directly to what people tell us they need.”

According to the Department of Commerce, the projects funded through this initial round of funding include:

“Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation — Community Center Solar Panels, Oakville: $251,000 to build a 121 kW roof-mounted solar installation for the tribe’s Community Center and to complete a feasibility study to add future battery storage at the center.Cowlitz Indian Tribe — Resilient Energy and Supplemental Power Project Phase II, Longview: $1.7 million to build a 100 kW solar array and battery energy storage system on administrative and clinic buildings to power the buildings and provide supplemental power for electric vehicle charging.Spokane Tribe of Indians — Western Nuclear Solar Farm Project, Wellpinit: $90,000 to evaluate the viability of repurposing the tribe’s historic uranium mine for solar energy generation.Willapa Bay Enterprises — Renewable Ocean Wave Energy Technology Demonstration Project, Tokeland: $2,744,507 to support the design, permitting, siting and construction of technology that produces zero emission hydrogen from ocean wave energy.Yakama Power – Solar Over Canal Project, Toppenish: $2.75 million to support permitting, environmental review and predevelopment work for an innovative 200 MW solar over canal project that leverages $160 million in federal and state funding.”

“This is a great opportunity for the Chehalis Tribe and the Department of Commerce to work together on the common goal of reducing our carbon footprint within Washington state,” said Tribal Chairman Dustin Klatush in the news release. “The tribe’s use of solar panels at our Community Center will bring immediate results toward that goal while embarking on a feasibility study to develop additional strategies for the future. This award is truly a win-win.”

While Tuesday’s announcement only included the initial round of funding, the Department of Commerce will hand out additional Community Decarbonization grants in the coming weeks.

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