Home » Energy Policy »

Washington Energy Summit: How To Get Stimulus Funds

The stimulus bill has lit a fire under U.S. states to come up with cleantech projects so they can distribute federal funding, at a time when almost every governor already is scrambling to make theirs the state with the most successful transition to a clean energy economy. Washington is no exception. (photos)

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire convened the Washington State Energy Summit yesterday to provide business and community leaders an opportunity to hear the latest about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding available to them.

ARRA 2009

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA"), a $787 billion economic stimulus package that contains nearly $72 billion in direct investments and $22 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy, smart grid/transmission, energy efficiency, green vehicles and green job training.

ARRA provides almost $94 billion dollars in direct and indirect spending, through tax incentives, grants and loan guarantees to clean energy companies and projects. Approximately $180 million is available in ARRA energy investment opportunities for Washington state for a wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Part of the summit was devoted to gathering input to a strategy for using the $60 million discretionary portion of the state funds. In addition, tens of billions more will be made available throughout the nation as competitive grants.

Swiftly organized under the banner of "repowering Washington," the summit attracted more than 700 representatives of utilities, labs, regulators, institutions and private businesses from around the state.

DOE: Take our money, please!

Scott Minos, a U.S. Department of Energy Policy & Communications Analyst with the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, gave a high-level overview of the funds available to Washington applicants through ARRA.

Minos described how, after more than a decade without major energy legislation, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 kicked off a hastening battery of bills that promote clean energy, including the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA), ARRA, and the federal budget.

The criteria for ARRA funds, Minos explained, are the jobs created, energy saved, renewable capacity, greenhouse gases reduced, and non-ARRA funds leveraged by a proposal. To be considered, all proposed programs and projects must be ready to start, transparently accountable, and compliant with the National Environmental Policy Act.

Washington State Energy Summit photo on EnergyPriorities.com

From left: moderator David Kaplan, economic development advisor; Terry Oliver, CTO, Bonneville Power Administration; Roger Woodworth, VP for Sustainable Energy Solutions, Avista; Avnaesh Jayantilal Ph.D., Director, Market Management Systems, Areva T&D. (Energy Priorities photo).

Examples of ARRA stimulus funding proposals

A panel of leaders from three proposal teams shared their ideas for federal clean energy grants, how they organized teams, and the opportunities and challenges they see in pursuing federal competitive grants.

Panelist Roger Woodworth, Vice President of Sustainable Energy Solutions for Avista, emphasized the layered quality of his company's proposal. He said the utility's revolving loan program for energy efficiency projects would leverage funds from local NGOs that in turn would leverage bank programs to finance projects.

"The consequences of the choices we make today will echo for decades to come," Woodworth said. Avista today serves 10 percent of its load with energy efficiency, and the proposed program would increase that share.

Twitter Feed


If you weren't following @cleantech during WSES, here's the raw feed:

Scott Minos, DOE EERE, outlined his agency's funds (but won't talk about forthcoming FOAs). Proposals must incl NEPA compliance.

Avista: top proposal is "energy resource champions" - green job roles to build awareness.

Bonneville: BPA did a large pilot integrating smart grid technologies, to learn about issues at the seams.

Roger Woodworth: Avista's revolving loan pgm will leverage funds from local NGOs that lev bank pgms to finance projects.

WA Gov Chris Gregoire: counts 47,000 green jobs in her state. Wants a "21st century job economy" in WA.

Gregoire signed SB 5921 into law @ WSES

Learned more than I hoped today. Some stimulus info simply not yet available.

Terry Oliver, Chief Technology Officer for Bonneville Power Administration, explained the long history of BPA in smart grid research. Oliver's recent research has been into integration of grid technologies. He stressed the importance of not only researching smart components, but integrating them to learn about issues "at the seams."

"It's about to rain money," Oliver said, "and that's taken our minds off things we need to be doing. This is not just an opportunity, it's also a distraction."

Four other panelists presented their ideas for projects in aviation biofuels, smart grid, biomass and workforce training.

Governor calls for collaboration

Over a boxed lunch, Governor Gregoire discussed the opportunities for ARRA funding and how a transition to a clean energy economy supports her vision for the state's robust economic development.

In a refrain that is echoing through state capitols nationwide, Gregoire said her state can and must lead the way to a green economy that creates sustainable jobs and protects the environment for future generations.

"Washington state has the innovators and the track record to attract substantial federal investment and partnerships for clean energy development and deployment," Gregoire said. "Washington has always been a hotbed of innovation, cutting-edge ideas, and world-class products. Collaboration will only serve to grow our state’s green energy research and development."

The Governor discussed grant funding for smart grid technology, renewable energy and storage, energy efficiency products, service and financing models, worker training and a State Energy Program.

Chris Gregoire photo on EnergyPriorities.com

Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed Substitute Senate Bill 5921 to establish a Clean Energy Leadership Council. (Energy Priorities photo)

After lunch the governor signed Substitute Senate Bill 5921 that establishes a Clean Energy Leadership Council to help guide Washington state's clean energy efforts.

Show me the money

Stoel Rives released a booklet with a high-level overview of stimulus funds broken down by cleantech sector. David Benson, Chair of the BioEnergy Practice Group at Stoel Rives, observed that financing challenges continue to hold back many worthy companies and projects, but that "we believe that the ARRA funding will provide an important and significant boost to the clean energy industry over the next eighteen months." The booklet is titled "Show Me the Money."


Great summit and great all-inclusive wrap up. For those who couldn't go - it's worth a read. To learn more about what Avista's Roger Woodworth spoke on at the summit, check out: http://avistacorp.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=43&item=904

Why does the local and federal government make it much easier for commercial operations to be able to afford a solar system or a wind turbine rather than the residential population. A 30% tax credit and no sales tax is not very encouraging when you have to finance a 40k solar energy project for a single taxpayer. The people who can afford a system the most, get better deals. We got a quote on a 5kw system and financing costs us 8% and businesses only pay 6%. Are there any low interest or no interest payment options available? And what is up with the 54 cents buy back from PSE when we all know that there is no way of getting that because no systems are manufactured in Washington yet or so I'm told, so when we put in a system, the payback is only 18 cents???? Where is the incentive?????

Thanks, Governor and Areva for making sure we get dirtier air in Mason County so that Areva gets federal stimulus money and you get to say you made "green" energy...