Presented by Bob Kirchmeier
Recap by guest-contributor Sarah Pristash
Bob Kirchmeier of the Washington State Department of Commerce spoke about the Clean Energy Fund and the ways its grants have been used to promote grid modernization. The Department of Commerce deals with every aspect of commerce and economic development, working with local government, businesses, and civic leaders to do so. The Clean Energy Fund was established to aid in transforming and modernizing the energy sector, as well as to create new markets for clean energy and low carbon technology. The Clean Energy Fund has given grid modernization grants working with electric and heating utilities. The initial 2013 round focused on helping utilities deploy energy storage pilot demonstration projects, as well as integrating intermittent renewables through storage and information technology. Four projects from 3 utilities across Washington participated in this initial run, mostly with Li-ion or flow cell battery projects. The second round of funding, CEF 2, had eight projects of energy storage paired with solar. All of these projects are in development and most will be online in the next year. For instance, a project in Arlington, WA will have a dedication this September. The third round of funding, CEF 3, focuses on a more diverse range of storage tech, including electrochemical and thermal, microgrids for resilience, and more focused use cases. Funding was approved for CEF 4 in the last legislative session, which will have more emphasis on vulnerable populations.