Washington cities, counties and the state will get about $56 million in federal stimulus money for projects that reduce energy use.
Washington tribes will receive an additional $2.6 million to improve energy efficiency.
The Obama administration announced the grants Thursday as part of $3.2 billion distributed nationwide.
The money could be used to conduct energy audits, retrofit buildings to use less energy, add solar panels to city buildings or upgrade traffic lights.
The money is separate from $120 million that Washington will get to weatherize between 7,000 and 10,000 homes and to pay for other energy projects.
The first chunk of energy stimulus money is expected in early April, said Tony Usibelli, head of energy policy for the Washington Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development. “We hope we will have projects up and running as early as this summer.”
Usibelli’s agency will get the largest chunk, about $10 million, of the grants announced Thursday.
The state plans to distribute a portion of that money to smaller towns and counties that don’t get direct grants from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Among 26 cities receiving direct grants, Spokane will get nearly $2 million, Vancouver about $1.6 million and Seattle about $6 million.
Among 10 counties getting money, Clark will receive nearly $2.3 million, Snohomish $4.8 million and Yakima about $630,000.
“This funding will create green jobs, deploy energy-efficient programs, and use new technologies to curb greenhouse gas emissions,” said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.
Nearly $60 million in stimulus money will go toward the state’s decades-old weatherization program, which last year received only $5 million in federal money.
Steve Payne, managing director in the Economic Development agency’s housing division, said as many as 10,000 homes could be weatherized over the next two years. A maximum of $6,500 can be spent on each home, but money is not given directly to families.
The state contracts with 26 community service providers across the state to run the program.
Qualifying households get an energy audit and a plan on how to reduce energy use, such as insulating water heaters, sealing duct leaks and weather-stripping windows. The service provider hires work crews to make the improvements.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Payne said.
By PHUONG LE, Associated Press – http://www.theolympian.com/northwest/story/799609.html