Centralia Coal Transition Board awards grant to King County Metro Transit to support project to deploy electric buses

Centralia, (January 20, 2022) The Centralia Coal Transition Grants Energy Technology Board is excited to announce it has approved a $1,000,000 grant submitted on behalf of the King County Metro Transit (Metro) to support the siting, design, and construction of a substation and bus charging power supply components to deploy electric buses. This project will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from Metro operations and eliminate carbon and other toxic air pollution affecting vulnerable, disproportionately impacted communities within Metro’s service area and the larger region.

The project, the South Base Test Facility is located on Metro’s South Base in the City of Tukwila. The facility will have 12 charging locations supported by three charger manufacturers. When completed it will be the only one of its kind in North America. In addition to the environmental improvements of operating all electric buses, the facility will provide training opportunities for Metro’s maintenance and operations staff while providing a critical showpiece for Metro’s efforts to expand its outreach programs to students in neighboring schools and technical colleges to study the technologies that will support electrification of the transportation sector. The purpose of the Energy Technology Board is to identify worthwhile and effective energy technologies to create energy, air quality, haze, or other environmental benefits for the State of Washington. As a board we agreed that supporting a project that provides direct benefits to the state aligns with the mission of the board. The bonus to this project is the learning opportunity it will provide to staff, high school and college students.

The Energy Technology Board was formed as a result of the 2011 Agreement between TransAlta and the state of Washington with the intent to fund projects with the potential to create environmental benefits to the state of Washington. This agreement allowed for the Centralia plant to move away from coal-fired operations with one unit shutting down in December 2020 and the second unit in December 2025. TransAlta is investing $55 million into Lewis and South Thurston Counties and the state of Washington through the Coal Transition Boards.

King County Metro Transit provides service to 2.3 million people and is approximately 2,134 square miles. The entire geographic area covers King County, portions of Snohomish County and Pierce County. It is among the ten largest transit agencies in the United States, with approximately 1,400 buses.

Overview of the Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards:

Annual payments for the funding boards have been made since 2012 with the last payment due December 31, 2023.  The opportunity to start flowing dollars into projects became effective December 31, 2015.

Weatherization Board ($10M): established to fund energy efficiency and weatherization for the residents, employees, business, non-profit organizations and local governments within Lewis County and South Thurston County; up to $1 million shall be allocated to fund residential energy efficiency and weatherization measures for low-income and moderate-income residents of Lewis County and South Thurston County;

Economic & Community Development Board ($20M): established to fund education, retraining, economic development, and community enhancement; at least $5M shall be allocated to fund education, retraining and economic development specifically targeting the needs of workers displaced from the Centralia facility;

Energy Technology Board ($25M): established to fund energy technologies with the potential to create environmental benefits to the state of Washington.