Coal Transition Board Awards Grant to convert boiler system to renewable energy

Centralia, Wash. (February 7, 2022) In August 2021 the TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Grants Energy Technology Board entered into a Grant Agreement with the Washington State Department of Corrections to support the Larch Corrections Center Biomass Energy System. The grant award of $500,000 is being leveraged with additional funding opportunities from the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation grant from the US Forest Service and other funding partners. The Larch Corrections Center will install a modern, efficient wood biomass system to offset the use of fuel oil for heating and domestic hot water at the facility. It is estimated that this project will reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 461 metric tons per year (91%) and will be the first of its kind among state facilities in Washington.

Larch Corrections Center is in Yacolt, Clark County, Washington. It is located within the Yacolt Burn State Forest and is approximately 4 miles west of the southwest corner of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This project will reduce hazardous fuels and improve forest health on the Gifford Pinchot and other forest lands in the area by supporting and expanding the local markets for forest management by-products. Local forest industry, wood products mills, and wood recyclers have been identified as “baseline” sources of fuel for the biomass system.

The project aligns with the goals and directives of the Washington Department of Natural Resources, the US Forest Service, and the State of Washington regarding forest management and renewable energy development. The project will provide for job training and job creation within the department and the forestry services, and over the longer term, serve as a model for sustainable, clean biomass heating in the region.

The Energy Technology Board was formed as a result of the 2011 Agreement between TransAlta and the state of Washington to transition the Centralia plant away from coal-fired operations with one unit shutting down in December 2020 and the second unit in December 2025. The company is investing $55 million into Lewis and South Thurston Counties and the state of Washington through the Coal Transition Boards.

Overview of the Centralia Coal Transition Funding Boards:

Annual payments for the funding boards began in 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.