Puget Sound Energy Awards $650,000 to Multifamily Communities with Energy Conservation Plans

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorBellevue, Wash.—Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Washington state’s oldest and largest energy utility, and a subsidiary of Puget Energy, recently awarded $650,000 in grant agreements for the company’s Multifamily New Construction program, which helps new communities that are incorporating energy conservation into their buildings.”Conservation is a big priority,” notes Rebekah Anderson, corporate communications program manager at PSE. “People are using more electricity and there’s a lot of population growth in Washington. The combination means more demand for electricity,” but if energy conservation measures are taken, “we can supply it without adding to the infrastructure.”Six developers were awarded PSE’s first grants—worth more than $550,000 for electricity-savings and $90,000 for gas-savings incentives to be incorporated into design and construction—for their proposed local multifamily construction projects.”The builders are saving money to [erect] buildings that people are attracted to. If you can say it’s a green or energy-efficient building, it’s something to differentiate you in the marketplace,” Anderson tells MHN.PSE’s Multifamily New Construction program provides developers with financial incentives packaged into single grants, technical information, and support for the construction of their new energy-efficient multifamily communities.Pre-grant, the project team must submit an application, early in the development process. PSE then facilitates an energy efficiency evaluation, providing an incentive proposal and generating a grant. If the owner signs the grant agreement, PSE will periodically visit the site to ensure measures are properly installed and conduct a final measure and document verification upon completion of the project.The program’s energy efficiency measures and funding are available for projects in the utility’s 11-county electric and natural gas service areas. The incentives are designed to help offset the costs associated with upgrading to Energy Star appliances and lighting, enhancing window efficiency and installing high-efficiency equipment for space and water heating. The projects receiving the first grants are Avalon Towers, Meydenbauer Apartments and Metro 112 in Bellevue, Bakhita Gardens and Hearthstone on Woodlawn in Seattle and Lancaster Townhomes in Olympia. PSE anticipates that its program will produce more than 1.5 million kilowatt hours of electric savings and nearly 20,000 therms of natural gas savings in 2009, or the equivalent of the electricity needed to power 125 homes and natural gas for 25 homes.PSE is currently evaluating additional proposals—Anderson notes the program received 50 applications—and the application process is ongoing. “There’s no cap on how many [grants] we are giving out,” she says. “Applicants just have to show what they will be using the funding for.”