Gov. Jay Inslee, left, joined King County Executive Dow Constantine, Washington State Department of Commerce officials, members of the Duwamish River Community Coalition, and others for a tour of Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station prior to an award announcement. (Commerce Photo)

The Washington State Department of Commerce and the City of Seattle this week allocated close to $75 million in funding for community-led clean energy projects and climate-related job training programs.

The Commerce grants, which totaled $72.6 million, will go to counties to support solar development, hydrogen fueling, electric microgrids and more. The City of Seattle is investing more than $2.2 million to recruit and train people from marginalized communities for construction and clean energy jobs.

The government agencies backing these programs said they are intended to equip people disproportionately affected by climate change with tools to respond as the world continues warming.

Leaders in Washington state and Seattle have demonstrated their commitment to addressing climate change with ambitious carbon reduction goals. Seattle aims to reach zero emissions by 2050 and decarbonize all city-owned buildings by 2035. In May, Commerce awarded Seattle $3.2 million to support appliance upgrades for small businesses.

The City of Seattle awarded funds to six programs within five organizations: 

  • Emerald Cities Collaborative, with funding for its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning work and for its electrical pathways program
  • Pacific Northwest Ironworkers Local 86
  • Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women
  • YouthCare’s YouthBuild 
  • Seattle Central College’s Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Training 

The investments will provide training for at least 260 Priority Hire employees, which is a city program supporting the employment of workers from economically disadvantaged communities. The effort also includes partnerships with local companies such as Puget Sound Energy to place workers in construction and clean energy jobs. 

Funding for the grants came from the city’s controversial payroll expense tax, which has faced repeated opposition from Seattle’s business community. The tax supports affordable housing and other efforts to support lower-income residents.

Commerce dispersed 71 grants across 24 counties for clean energy installations. All projects have an environmental justice component. 

The funding for these awards comes from Washington’s Climate Commitment Act, a progressive measure backed by Gov. Jay Inslee that caps carbon emissions and requires businesses to pay for the right to pollute. Initiative 2117, which will be on the November ballot, would eliminate the act and the climate funding it generates. 

Some of the Commerce grant awardees include: 

  • Toppenish School District in Yakima received $1.7 million for renewable energy projects for community resilience and student engagement at Valley View Elementary School.
  • Port Angeles Food Bank received $321,516 for sustainable power upgrades.
  • United Indians of All Tribes Foundation in King County received $2.2 million to decarbonize the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle’s Discovery Park. 
  • The City of Walla Walla received $2.5 million for a project to power the city’s water treatment operations with solar.

“These awards get money into the hands of people who can immediately put it to use fighting climate change,” Mike Fong, director of the Department of Commerce, said in a press release.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline

Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.