—OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Commerce has awarded the Grant County Public Utility District a $430,000 grant to improve the energy efficiency of the district's Ephrata headquarters.

According to PUD spokesperson Christine Pratt, the district will use the funds as part of a $1.7 million project to update the heating and cooling equipment, install LED lights and replace the environmental control systems in its Ephrata building.

"The Ephrata headquarters dates to the 1950s and the 1960s," Pratt said. "We expect to start work in October, and it's part of a larger project."

Pratt said the larger project involves all of the PUD's office buildings in Ephrata and Moses Lake, though the scope of the overall work has not been "completely defined."

"Our buildings in Moses Lake and Ephrata have been around a long time and just need improvement," she said. "There are some pretty substantial upgrades in this."

Penny Thomas, communications manager with the Department of Commerce, said the grant application process was very competitive and the PUD's application scored high. It also helped the department focused on applicants from smaller and rural communities.

The PUD is one of 15 recipients of grants, totaling around $4 million, designed to help public entities and local governments upgrade buildings by installing more energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems to help reduce energy consumption.

Other major recipients include a $500,000 grant to Kittitas Valley Healthcare to install LED lighting, improve ventilation in the surgical suite and the MRI scanner's cooling system, and $469,000 to the Port Townsend School District to replace its high school's heating system and upgrade heating and cooling at the district's elementary school.

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