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PSE expanding renewable energy grant program

Puget Sound Energy’s work in bringing renewable energy demonstration systems to Washington state schools is expanding its reach this year. Monday, Feb. 8, the utility opened the application period for schools and, new to the program this year, select institutions that educate the public about renewable energy and the environment, to apply for a small scale solar array or wind turbine grant.

Between $5,000 and $20,000 in funding will be available for renewable energy demonstration systems ranging from 900 watts to 2 kilowatts to be installed in 2010.

PSE’s Renewable Energy Education (formerly the Solar Schools Program) and voluntary Green Power programs have already funded 20 educational solar power projects in the Puget Sound region in the last six years. The programs promote understanding and acceptance of renewable energy technologies and expand the range of options available to local educators, students, families and communities in PSE’s nine county electric service area.

Three new features to the 2010 Renewable Energy Education Program have been added:

All institutions with a renewable energy education focus are now eligible to apply, previously the program had only been open to school districts with Resource Conservation Managers.

Applicants will be required to have utilized a PSE energy efficiency program in the past 36 months.

An electronic application is available for online submittal, applications can be found on PSE’s Web site at: www.pse.com/community/educationalprograms/Pages/SolarSchools.aspx

Successful applicants will receive grants to fund renewable energy education demonstration projects at their educational facility. The grant will provide supplemental funds or in approximately four cases cover the entire cost of a renewable energy demonstration system.

In addition to the rooftop-mounted solar panels or wind turbines, the grants support Web based monitoring software that allows students and interested community members to track how much energy is being generated as the weather changes. Also provided are educational materials and support including science teacher training, classroom activity guides and renewable energy science kits.

Small-scale renewable energy demonstration systems require no fuel and minimal maintenance while generating enough power, on average to operate 10 to 20 notebook computers, each consuming 33 watts for eight hours a day. The wind and solar equipment has a typical system lifespan of 20 or more years.

Schools and education institutions qualifying for the grant will submit plans detailing their educational goals and objectives for a solar or wind demonstration project. All proposals must be received by PSE no later than 5 p.m. on March 22, 2010.

In 2009, Puget Sound-area schools received more than $110,000 in grants for the installation of solar systems:

• Green River Community College, Auburn

• Liberty High School, Renton

• Hazen High School, Renton

• Coupeville Middle and High School, Whidbey Island

Since 2004, PSE has funded the installation of other systems at Redmond High School, Port Townsend High School, the Bellingham Environmental Learning Center, Depot Market Square in Bellingham, the Puget Sound Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee’s Training Center in Renton, the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, Western Washington University in Bellingham, the Institute for Environmental Research and Education, JG Commons Building and Vashon Household building all on Vashon Island, Thomas Jefferson High School in Federal Way, Marshall and Washington Middle Schools in Olympia, Interlake High School in Bellevue, South Whidbey High School and Sakai Intermediate School on Bainbridge Island.

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For more information, visit www.PSE.com.

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