TransAlta Coal Transition Board Awards $290k to the Town of Fairfield

Centralia, Wash. (October 22, 2019) The TransAlta Centralia Coal Transition Grants Energy Technology Board announced today it has approved a $290,000 grant to the Town of Fairfield to support the construction of an 96kW ground based photovoltaic solar array at the Waste Water Treatment Plant. Producing renewable energy, this 96kW solar project will produce approximately 113,400kW per year through a net metering agreement with Avista Utilities and utilizes State of Washington manufactured solar panels that qualify for cost recovery incentive payments.

The $290,000 grant will be leveraged with funding received from the Washington Department of Commerce Energy Efficiency and Solar Grants Program and the Town of Fairfield to fully fund the solar project. The project will reduce the town’s electric bill at the waste water treatment plant and allow the town to redirect those funds to capital improvement projects.

“This project adds renewable energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and allows for the town to use their cost savings to invest in other ways to support the community” says Lori Schmitt, Energy Technology Board member. “The board sees this project as adding to the solution in meeting the environmental goals for the state of Washington.”  

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.

The Town of Fairfield is a small farming community in southeast Spokane County, located 30 miles south of Spokane and provides municipal services to town residents including a modern waste water treatment plant.  The town has an ongoing commitment and goal to upgrade its infrastructure and technology to best serve the town residents and enlisted the expertise of Apollo Solutions Group to support their goals.

“Apollo Solutions Group has extensive experience with small rural cities, towns, and school districts throughout Washington State and the Pacific Northwest on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Projects such as the one with the Town of Fairfield. Receiving a grant like the one awarded by the Energy Technology Board makes all the difference in the world to these small rural communities. If the Town of Fairfield didn’t receive this generous grant from TransAlta Coal Transition Board, this project wouldn’t have been possible.” – Mike Fuentes, Division Manager, Apollo Solutions Group

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.