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PTS receives $1M solar grant

June 2, 2023

PHOENIX – The Phoenix-Talent School District has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Oregon Department of Energy to install a ground-mounted solar installation with battery storage at Talent Middle School, the ODOE announced Thursday.

The installation will act as an operable microgrid in the event of a natural disaster or other emergencies, ensuring the building – which will act as a local emergency shelter – retains critical backup power.

Jon McCalip, Phoenix-Talent SD's director of facilities and projects, said he stood up off his recliner and cheered after receiving news of the grant at home about two weeks ago.

"It's a major win and I was super excited," he said.

According to McCalip, the solar panels, which will be installed in an open field behind the playground at Talent Middle School, will save the district approximately $13,000 a year in energy costs. They will also provide TMS with about 500 hours of battery backup.

McCalip estimated that the project will be completed by June of 2024.

PTS was one of 39 recipients selected to receive a total of $12 million in Community Renewable Energy Grant Program funds. The program supports the planning and construction of renewable energy or energy resilience projects for Tribes, public bodies and consumer-owned utilities.

ODOE will finalize performance agreements with the awardees, which outline their responsibilities for receiving the funds. After finalizing the agreements, the agency can release up to 30 percent of the grant, with the remaining funds released upon project completion and verification.

“The Oregon Department of Energy is proud to support projects in Oregon communities that will bolster renewable energy and strengthen resilience in the event of an emergency,” said ODOE Director Janine Benner. “We were pleased to see the variety of proposed renewable energy and resilience projects in counties across the state – including solar, geothermal, biogas, and micro-hydro projects, as well as paired battery storage.”

The Community Renewable Energy Grant Program was created by the Oregon Legislature in 2021 to support projects outside Portland city limits, with a total budget of $50 million. ODOE awarded a first round of $12 million in grants in 2022, and will make additional rounds of funding available through 2024.