Through small automated donations on their monthly bills, residents are making a true impact on the environment—and their South Sound community.
“Evergreen Options, a Tacoma Power program, offers Pierce County residents an easy way to support the development of new renewable energy resources both locally and in the Pacific Northwest region—without the burden of installing their renewable energy system,” says Bruce Carter, assistant conservation manager for Tacoma Power.
“Funds from participants are used to both purchase non-hydroelectric renewable power from the region, but also support annual $50,000 grants to schools, nonprofits and government agencies for the development of new local renewable energy projects in Pierce County,” he says. “Participating in Evergreen Options is a low cost way to support a cleaner energy future.”
Seeing Tacoma Power Evergreen Options throughout the South Sound
In 2017, Tacoma Power launched a grant program through which local schools, nonprofits and government agencies could submit proposals for deploying renewable energy projects. Evergreen Options members then vote annually for their favorite project(s) to win grant funding up to $50,000.
The program helps recipients generate a portion of their own electricity from renewable sources including wind, solar, geothermal, landfill gas, wave or tidal, biomass, gas produced during the treatment of wastewater, and qualified hydropower. Funding comes from Tacoma Power residential and business customers who participate in the Evergreen Options program.
Tacoma Power’s commitment to providing renewable energy gives residents who donate the ability to see how their support is being put to use—in a truly tangible manner.
For example, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium used Evergreen Options grant funding for the construction of a 25.5 kilowatt solar installation on the Asian Forest Sanctuary. This solar project supplies electricity to the Asian Forest exhibit, as well as several surrounding buildings.
The Bates Technical College south campus used an Evergreen Options grant to replace existing, vandalism-vulnerable parking lot lighting with theft-proof solar parking lot lighting. “This conversion eliminated copper wire theft and improved safety in dark parking areas,” Carter says.
Additionally, the Franklin Pierce School District is in the process of using Evergreen Options grant funding for the installation of a 20 kilowatt solar array at the district’s “Farm.” The farm is an agricultural and now-renewable energy learning lab for district students.
“The solar array will provide electricity for a large walk-in cooler where farm-raised produce is stored, as well as lighting for a conference/classroom on site,” Carter adds. “Students will learn the science behind solar photovoltaic electrical generation and see the technology at work.”
Looking ahead, Evergreen Options participants have provided grant funding for an at-risk youth facility under construction by the Tacoma Housing Authority and a 99.9 kilowatt solar array to be installed on Jason Lee Middle School. “Evergreen Options participants provided initial funding for this remarkable project first envisioned by three middle school students. It will not only provide electricity for the school, but act as a solar learning lab for students,” Carter says.
Make South Sound Proud: Get Involved
Evergreen Options began in 2001 as a response to legislation that required all electric utilities to offer customers the option to purchase green power. The program has since grown and expanded, with a mission to empower participants to help direct the funds to worthy projects.
“We are a part of the Tacoma-Pierce County community,” Carter says. “Tacoma Power provides our customers with electricity from clean, renewable hydropower. Supporting and developing the next generation of clean electricity production is important to Tacoma Power and our customers.”
From every day, individual to city and utility system-wide actions everyone can make an impact on the environment. If you are interested in participating in Evergreen Options, visit MyTPU.org/Evergreen.