The Community Energy Challenge will receive significant funding sooner than expected in order to continue its program.
Earlier this year, the program was awarded $2 million from the Northwest Clean Air Agency with the goal of reducing greenhouse gases. The program works with homeowners and businesses in Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties to improve energy efficiency.
The funding comes from BP Cherry Point Refinery to help offset the additional carbon dioxide that will be released from its new ultra-low sulfur diesel unit. The plan was for BP to fund the award through the agency six months after the unit was operational, which would have been later this year, said Shawn Collins, manager of the program. When BP heard the program might be interrupted, officials decided to provide a portion of the funding sooner.
"This will make sure that contractors stay busy and that our clients don't experience a lag in service," Collins said.
The Community Energy Challenge is being operated by two nonprofit organizations, the Opportunity Council and Sustainable Connections. So far, the challenge has created 47 jobs and more than $10 million in direct economic activity, according to Alex Ramel, energy and policy manager with Sustainable Connections.