Columbia Basin College and the cities of West Richland and Prosser will receive almost $1.3 million from the state to install solar panels and overhaul street lighting in their communities.
State commerce officials announced the awards Friday. More than 20 local governments and agencies along with several higher education institutions received about $8.6 million for projects.
CBC will install a 100-kilowatt solar array on its business building on the Pasco campus, generating power that will help offset a chunk of the college’s energy needs.
West Richland and Prosser officials will use most of their share to replace hundreds of street lights with more efficient LEDs, or light-emitting diodes.
“Basically it will cut our energy use in half,” said Roscoe Slade III, West Richland’s public works director.
The awards were given through a competitive process and may only be used for energy savings and operational or solar projects. State officials lauded the grants as a way for governments to save taxpayer dollars while creating almost 300 jobs around the state and helping the environment.
“When the places we work, study and do business in are energy efficient, the benefits add up,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a release.
CBC has received prior awards from the state for energy efficiency projects. The college’s latest grant was the largest single award given by the state and the new solar panels are intended to make the college more sustainable. The project also will serve as a demonstration site, said Brett Riley, CBC’s director for business office services, grants and contract management.
“I fully plan on engaging the students in this project,” he said.
The project will cost about $1 million, with the state providing $765,188 and the college covering the rest.
West Richland will replace all 1,000 of its streetlights with LEDs, Slade said, while also installing a monitoring system that will allow the city to track the energy usage of each individual light and dim them during quiet periods at night. The city will be the first to use the monitoring system in conjunction with LED lights in the Northwest, Slade added.
“Light maintenance had become 20 percent of the street fund and we knew that wasn’t sustainable,” he said.
The project will cost $1.1 million, with the state award chipping in $281,937. Benton Rural Electric Association is partnering on the project and providing another $195,000 in energy rebates and other savings. The remainder will come from a state loan, which will be paid off with the energy savings from the new lights.
Prosser will replace about 400 high-pressure sodium street lights with LEDs and install new drive motors on some municipal water pumps that will use less energy. The total cost of those projects is $920,000, with $230,162 covered by the grant. The remainder will be paid for by money from city reserves and a loan from the state, said Mayor Paul Warden.
“I know we’ll realize about $70,000 in energy savings every year,” he said.