Sample Grant Proposal: Low-Income Wind Energy Project 2
Project Theory, Design and Plan
The Big Picture: Future of Electricity in Washington
Electricity prices will continue to rise as the electricity supply becomes more and more
dependent on natural gas-fired turbines. In the U.S. 272 gas-fired plants are projected to be
connected to the grid over the next decade. At the same time, domestic natural gas production is
expected to peak in 2007, Canadian production in 2005, and Mexican production in 2011.
Remaining natural gas reserves will be primarily in an unstable Middle East. (Rifkin, The
Hydrogen Economy, 2002, p. 126-7) In this environment, a continued rise is in the market price
of natural gas is almost inevitable.
For this reason, it makes sense to shift to energy sources that are not subject to market pricing, to
so-called cost-based resources. Wind is such a source, and is abundant in Washington State.
The price of wind-based energy is a function of the cost of wind-turbines and other infrastructure
needed to develop a wind farm. Once these capital costs are paid, the energy source itself, wind,
is free. In this sense, a wind farm is an insurance policy for low-income families against future
volatility in the price of natural gas.
This project builds on a foundation of partnerships, working with partner utilities to shift from
treating the low-income community as passive consumers of power to active developers of
power. By developing wind-generated electricity, the low-income community gains access to
cost-based energy, escaping the fluctuations of the natural gas commodity market.
The Project targets LIHEAP-eligible families heating with electricity.
According to a report prepared for DHHS by Roper ASW, there are 291,886 LIHEAP-eligible
households in Washington State. Many of these households include members who are
particularly vulnerable to heat or cold:
89,482 include an elderly person
73,051 include a disabled person
70,281 include a child five years old or younger
These numbers are based on Washington’s LIHEAP income limit of 125% of the Federal
Poverty Guidelines. Using a 150% FPG standard approximately doubles each of the numbers
above (663,034 households live below 150% FPG; of these 244,950 include an elderly person
Last year, 57,300 households received LIHEAP, leaving 234,586 eligible households (80%)
unserved. Because of historically low-priced hydro-electric power, most Washington low-
income homes (73%) heat with electricity rather than natural gas (17%), with the balance using
wood, oil, and other fuels. Although Washington once had some of the lowest priced electricity
in the nation, since 1980 rates have doubled, even after adjusting for inflation. (See Figure 1.)