A $189,000 state grant will pay for solar panels at Palouse High School as part of a larger program to make public buildings more energy efficient. The total money being awarded across the state is $1.4 million and 14 of those that applied will be given varying amounts of funding for their public building to install solar panels. This is part of a larger program sponsored by the Washington State Department of Commerce called the Energy Retrofits for Public Buildings.
Mike Jones, the superintendent of the Palouse School District and principal of Palouse High School, says that without the grant from the department of commerce, the district would not have the funds to install solar panels at Palouse High School.
“Any type of cost savings with the rising gas prices and everything else is going to help preserve opportunities that we’re trying to create for students,” says Jones.
Once installed, the solar panels are estimated to save the school $11,000 per year, according to the department of commerce.
Jennifer Grove, the managing director of the energy in communities unit for the state’s department of commerce, says that it is important to provide funding for existing buildings like Palouse High School rather than constructing new energy efficient buildings.
“We are looking at all different ways in which we can help reduce those greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint of the built environment from residential housing to public facilities to critical facilities, to state facilities, schools and beyond. In particular, schools provide an excellent opportunity to help the school retain more dollars,” says Grove.
According to a press release by the department of commerce, built environments are the second-largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, and with this grant, more built environments like Palouse High School will be able to convert to clean energy.
This grant is just the latest round of funds being awarded by the department of commerce. Grove says that one goal of the program is to provide the same opportunities for rural areas as urban areas.
“A focus and mission of our agency is to be providing the same benefit that one might get in a major city to the more rural areas of our state, so they can also benefit in achieving those cost savings,” says Grove.