A new program in Tenino, called the Tenino Innovation and Education Through Renewables project (TIER) aims to modernize the power grid and create educational opportunities that allow for job training and the growth of clean energy.
The venture — which launched this morning and is backed by government officials, education leaders, and the business community — is designed to be a “living laboratory” that will transform Tenino into a regional training center.
The leaders involved include officials from the city, the Tenino School District, Centralia College, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, PECI, Washington State University, and Puget Sound Energy.
With the Centralia coal plant slated to close in 2025, forcing 200 residents out of work, the hope is that the TIER program can develop a new career path for those workers and provide a career pipeline for students as well.
“TIER is an unprecedented research and training collaboration and there’s no doubt that it has the potential to change the economic future of the South Puget Sound region,” said Tanya Barham, director of operations and product development for PECI, a nonprofit focused on creating a new, publicly-beneficial energy economy.
The project will operate on three fronts. First, it will modernize the power grid to include smart grid infrastructure and technologies including solar, batteries, two-way communication, advanced distribution controls, and more.
Second, an education and training program will teach K-12 and Centralia College students as well as coal workers about emerging energy technologies.
And third, families will be able to interact with the grid in order to learn how to make better decisions about energy use.
“The TIER project is consistent with the City of Tenino’s goals of providing positive educational opportunities for our youth, new economic development opportunities, reducing expenses and improving quality of life for our home and business owners,” said Wayne Fornier, Tenino’s Mayor.