Local organizations receive state awards to increase sustainability and resiliency


Three local groups have received two separate state grants that will help in making Point Roberts a more sustainable and independent community. Resilient Point Roberts: Going Solar (RPRG Solar) and partner Point Roberts parks district, has received $133,000 from the state to be used in concert with another $17,000 in donations to conduct feasibility studies on installing solar panels to provide backup power for community buildings such as the fire hall, community center and Trinity Church, for example.

Another group, Point Roberts Organic Earth, has been awarded a $94,000 state grant to complete a full feasibility study of implementing a local green waste system.

Energy resilience is the goal

Local groups win grant to support solar for community buildings

Point Roberts has won a grant that represents the first steps of bringing more reliable, resilient, carbon-free energy to our town.

In April, Resilient Point Roberts: Going Solar (RPRG Solar), in collaboration with the Point Roberts parks district, applied for a grant of $150,000 ($133,000 in state funding + $17,000 community investment) from Washington state’s Clean Energy Community Decarbonization Grants program. In June, Point Roberts was awarded the full $133,000 in state funds.

RPRG Solar is a voluntary initiative devoted to creating greater community resilience through solar and backup power. The funds will be used to conduct feasibility studies for installing solar panels and backup systems on public buildings including the community center, the fire district (and health clinic), the water district building and reservoir, the library and Trinity Church which serves as an emergency shelter.

“We are moving towards energy independence and resilience on the Point,” said Stephen Falk, a parks district commissioner and co-author of the grant request. “Having solar and storage means we reduce our dependence on external power supplies, which are susceptible to disruptions.”

Many local groups have already backed the plan. Letters of Support for the grant were provided by the Point Roberts Taxpayers Association, the Point Roberts Community Advisory Committee, the Whatcom County Library System, Whatcom County Fire District No. 5, Point Roberts Water District No. 4, Point Roberts Emergency Planning, Circle of Care, Trinity Community Lutheran Church, Point Roberts Animal Welfare Society, and PRO-Earth. Additionally, $17,000 in financial support was provided by the fire district ($10k), parks district ($5k), and a local private contribution ($2k).

“Point Roberts residents are resilient. Bringing solar and backup to our community buildings is part of ensuring our infrastructure is resilient too,” said Shauna Sylvester, lead convenor of RPRG Solar. “I think we were successful in getting the Clean Energy grant because Washington state recognized how engaged we have been as a community in this process. A big thanks to the RPRG Solar volunteers, the leadership of the parks district, fire chief Christopher Carleton and fire and water district commissioners, Trinity Church, and all the volunteer committees who supported us. We’re on our way!”

For more information, contact Kara Smith at resilientpointroberts@gmail.com or go to www.resilientpointroberts.com.

Group awarded $94,000 state grant

Point Roberts Organic Earth awarded a $94,000 state grant to study organic reuse

Point Roberts Organic Earth (PRO Earth) is a local nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the loss of organic material from Point Roberts and reducing greenhouse gasses. Organic materials include yard and garden waste, wood waste, as well as kitchen food waste. The group has been awarded a $94,000 Local and Community Projects grant from Washington state.

PRO Earth was established in late 2022 following a Point Roberts Garden Club discussion of what happens to garden refuse that is not home composted or chipped. A working group consisting of local residents with research, planning, engineering and writing backgrounds convened and formed PRO Earth to advocate for a more circular, sustainable system.

In 2023, the group secured a $10,000 NextCycle grant to conduct an initial analysis of green waste in Point Roberts and explore ways to improve the current situation. Upon reviewing the results, state senator Sharon Shewmake and state representative Alicia Rule, sponsored a request for funds to complete a full feasibility study of implementing a local green waste system.

A Point Roberts green waste system would potentially include woody waste chipping, and both yard and kitchen waste composting. The mulch and compost products would be available to the public. A local green waste system would be convenient and would reduce trucking, burning, and landfill volume with its associated methane gas production. Tons of organic material could be retained on the Point.

Over the course of 2024, PRO Earth will be leading discussions in our community to inform people about the scope of the problems, and explore how they can be remedied in a way that benefits our land, air quality and furthers a sustainable community. Watch for announcements of public meetings over the course of the summer.

The first public meeting will be on Sunday, June 30 at 2 p.m. at the Point Roberts Community Center.

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