TransAlta invests $55 million in Washington State

Jul 31, 2015

TransAlta invests $55 million in Washington State

Jul 31, 2015

TransAlta invests $55 million in Washington State

Investing in the local community and Washington State

​Being a good neighbour means investing in the communities in which TransAlta operates and that is why we are following through on our commitment to contribute $55 million over 10 years into the local community and Washington State even though we have not secured all long-term contracts required by legislation.

“We are excited to be moving ahead with plans to invest $55 million to support energy efficiency, economic and community development, and education and retraining initiatives in Washington State,” said Bob Nelson, director, Centralia plant and mine.

We were able to secure a contract with Puget Sound Energy for 380 MW — key to our operations — but unfortunately, due in large part to the low-price environment, we have not been successful at achieving our goal of 500MW.

“The company appreciated the diligent efforts made by the TransAlta team to secure additional contracting. During the process, partnerships were formed with the governor, his staff, the state regulatory agencies and environmental and labour groups, which are important as we transition Centralia away from coal,” added Nelson.

Community development, energy efficiency

​This pledge is part of Washington State’s TransAlta Energy Transition legislation. In 2011, policymakers, environmentalists, labour leaders and TransAlta reached an agreement to transition the Centralia coal-fired units away from coal with one unit shutting down in 2020 and the second unit in 2025.

The $55 million will be managed by three funding boards to support energy efficiency, economic and community development, and education and retraining initiatives in Washington State:

  • Weatherization Board ($10 million): The Weatherization Fund supports projects in Lewis County and South Thurston County, Washington with businesses, nonprofit organizations and local governments to improve and promote energy efficiency, conservation and weather proofing — for example, through the installation of improved insulation, better windows, weather stripping, more efficient water heaters, appliances and lighting systems. Other projects that may qualify could include more efficient lighting and ventilation or installation of solar panels.
  • Economic and Community Development Board ($20 million): The Economic and Community Development Fund supports projects to educate and retrain workers in Lewis and South Thurston counties, with a special emphasis on the needs of community members affected by the eventual closure of the coal-fired electric generating facility in Centralia, Washington. It also provides grants for projects that enhance economic opportunities and community partnerships that benefit and strengthen the region.
  • Energy Technology Board ($25 million): The Energy Technology Fund supports projects in Washington State that benefit clean energy, air quality or the environment. Eligible projects could include green energy technologies, alternative fuels and other products or processes that increase conservation or minimize pollution.

“It’s going to be exciting to see how these dollars are used to benefit the employees and local community,” said Nelson. “We are proud of what we have accomplished which is a good case study for a balanced transition away from coal.”

Next steps

​The boards were formed by July 1, 2012, and board members have been meeting since formation to prepare for the day they are able to invest, which is December 31, 2015. TransAlta has been making annual payments totaling $4.6 million to the boards for calendar years 2012, 2013 and 2014. The Weatherization Board fund is approximately $2.5 million, the Economic and Community Development fund is approximately $5 million and the Energy Technology fund balance is approximately $6.2 million.

At this point, we will continue to responsibly operate the facility and look for opportunities to build a new gas plant or convert the coal-fired units to natural gas.

We will continue with our partnership with Washington State and the community as we recognize the need for our employees, community and state to receive funding benefits as a result of the 2011 coal transition plan.

For more information on the funding boards, visit www.cctgrants.com.

July 31, 2015

Related Pages

TransAlta USA site