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State sends Tacoma $1.9M to coax low-income residents away from gas appliances

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(The Center Square) – Tacoma is receiving $1.9 million from Washington state to aid the city in its attempt to help residents transition away from fossil fuels.

The $1.9 million million is courtesy of the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Home Electrification Appliance Rebates Program.

Funding will be distributed to eligible Tacoma residents through a partnership with Tacoma Power.

The intention of the program is to provide low- and moderate-income residents within the city opportunities to transition from natural gas and oil-powered appliances to electric and clean energy appliances. This includes heat pumps and electric ovens.

“The city has a plan to gradually switch fossil fuel appliances to efficient electric heat pumps in homes and businesses with low and moderate incomes,” Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said in a statement on Friday. “This plan, based on data, aligns with our community’s vision of Tacoma as a safe and affordable clean energy city.”

The city stated that the switch to clean energy is especially beneficial “thanks to Tacoma Power’s clean, renewable hydroelectric power.”

The commerce department is distributing $37 million to local governments throughout Washington to administer rebates and incentives to low and moderate income households as part of the State Climate Commitment Account. The commitment account is made up of a total of $77.6 million.

The account also anticipates $18.6 million to leverage the Federal IRA Home Electrification Appliance Rebates grant program, $10 million for projects that install heat pumps in homes, and $12 million for projects directly administered or supported by state and federally recognized tribal governments, and tribal partnerships.

According to the Washington State Department of Commerce, building-related emissions are the second-greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, with the greatest portion of the building sector’s emissions coming from the direct combustion of natural gas and other fossil fuels in buildings for cooking, and space and water heating.

In Tacoma alone, building emissions represent approximately 19% of the city’s core emissions.

The state has been working to transition its counties and cities to clean energy in recent years. In March, Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1589, which is a “planning bill” that consolidates Puget Sound Energy’s strategy for both electrical and natural gas in the future.

Proponents looking to gather enough signatures for Initiative 2066, which would bar cities and counties from prohibiting, penalizing or discouraging “the use of gas for any form of heating, or for uses related to any appliance or equipment, in any building.” The initiative is a response to House Bill 1589.

To get Initiative 2066 on the upcoming ballot, backers must submit signatures of at least 324,516 registered voters to the Secretary of State’s Office by 5 p.m. on July 5.

More information on how eligible Tacoma residents can use the newly announced grant funds for new clean energy appliances is anticipated to be revealed this coming fall.

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