Kilmer Secures $5.2 Million in New Federal Funding for Community Projects in Mason County
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) voted to pass the Consolidated Appropriations Act, government funding legislation that includes new federal funding for local priorities in Mason County. Specifically, the government funding package includes:
- $3 million to PUD 3 for the Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project
- $2.2 million to the Skokomish Tribe for the T3ba'das Infrastructure Project
The PUD investment will support electrical capacity to enable economic development in Mason County and assist Belfair’s ability to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding for the Skokomish Tribe will support the construction of roads, sidewalks, utilities, and other infrastructure needs for the Skokomish Tribe to complete the development of approximately 20 acres of tribal trust land into buildable lots for new housing.
With regard to the Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project, Kilmer said, “As we work to recover from this pandemic, we’ve got to ensure that communities have the resources they need to attract new investment, create new jobs, and build local economies. That’s why I’m thrilled to secure $3 million in new federal funding to help Mason County build out essential electrical infrastructure that can help attract new businesses and investment and increase regional grid resilience for existing customers.”
Belfair is one of the two urban growth areas in Mason County, serving as a commercial hub for the broader community at the northern end of Hood Canal. However, the lack of electric capacity and reliability issues continue to be primary inhibitors to creating economic growth and attracting new businesses to the region. In fact, in 2021, the Economic Development Council of Mason County had to turn away multiple recruitment opportunities due to a lack of electrical infrastructure capacity - resulting in an estimated loss of hundreds of potential new jobs. The Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project will improve the electric grid infrastructure at the Belfair substation, add access to existing capacity, and increase new capacity for the northern part of Mason PUD 3’s service territory. In doing so, Mason PUD 3 reports that its grid resiliency and ability to serve new customers will be greatly improved in the Belfair and North Mason area.
“We are so appreciative of Representative Kilmer’s work on securing funding for Mason PUD 3’s Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project as it will have a significant impact on the reliability of the PUD’s electric system and ensure the ability to continue to serve the residents and businesses in the North Mason area well into the future. It will also save PUD ratepayers the equivalent of a nearly ten percent (10%) rate increase,” said Annette Creekpaum, Mason PUD 3 General Manager.
“This project has been on the priority list of Mason County elected officials and the Economic Development Council of Mason County for several years due to its ability to relieve current capacity constraints and leverage other infrastructure investments from the State, County, and local developers,” said Linda Gott, Mason PUD 3 President of the Board of Commissioners. “It takes great partnerships to tackle a project this large and we are grateful for Derek’s support. He has visited our facilities, listened to our leadership about the needs in our service territory, and he has championed this effort from the beginning. His office has kept us informed throughout the entire process and it is exciting to see an infusion of federal dollars into our community when we need them most.”
“I am very honored and thankful to Congressman Kilmer and his staff for focusing on infrastructure projects across his district. When looking at development for our small rural community, we are constantly looking at what we need to be successful. Cost and capacity often limit how we are able to grow. But with this funding, we are able to move forward with additional capital investment in the area along with exponential job growth without an undue burden on our citizens,” said Jennifer Barri, Executive Director of Mason EDC. “Again, thank you to all those involved!”
In addition, the Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project aims to increase reliability and resilience. Because of the design of the Mason PUD 3 substation and the Bonneville Power Administration’s (BPA) transmission system, when a storm impacts the transmission line near the Belfair substation, BPA is required to take down five of the PUD’s twelve substations creating an outage which can impact over 17,000 residents and businesses. In 2021 and 2022, storm emergencies caused businesses to experience outages causing commercial activities to cease until repairs were accomplished. Many businesses were closed and employees were unable to work for a day or more in large part due to a lack of power during the storms. The new infrastructure architecture provided by the Belfair Electrical Capacity Infrastructure Project is designed to ultimately help BPA and Mason PUD3 avoid this type of major substation outage and aims to provide more redundancy in addition to reliability.
Rep. Kilmer led the effort to secure funding for the project through the House Appropriations Committee’s Community Project Funding process. The Community Infrastructure Project was supported by Mason County, Mason PUD 3 the Mason County Economic Development Council, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Skokomish Tribe.
With regard to the T3ba'das Infrastructure Project, Kilmer said, “Across our region, we need more affordable housing – including for Native communities. That’s why I’m thrilled to secure $2.2 million in new federal funding to build new affordable housing in Mason County. These projects will not only help ensure more Skokomish Tribe members can return to their ancestral homelands but also help ease housing challenges for non-Tribal citizens that live nearby.”
“The funding, $2,200,000, will provide the financial resources necessary to construct the infrastructure (roads, sidewalks and utilities) for approximately twenty single family homes and a number of multifamily units as well. Housing has been one of the most substantial limiting factors to community development for our Tribe. We have a substantial waitlist for housing, but also are suffering the impacts of climate change which are increasing the frequency of the floods to our community. The Skokomish River is still the most frequently flooded river in Washington State. We will utilize these funds to continue in our mission to provide affordable housing for the members of the Skokomish Tribe and their families. We are deeply grateful to Congressman Kilmer for his efforts to support this vital mission of our Tribe,” said Charles “Guy” Miller, Chairman of the Skokomish Tribal Council.
The Community Project Funding for the T3ba'das Infrastructure Project will provide funding to construct the roads, sidewalks, utilities, and other infrastructure needed to complete the development of approximately 20 acres of Skokomish tribal trust land into buildable lots for new housing. Providing affordable housing opportunities for tribal members aims to help ensure members can live on the reservation – and ease the affordable housing crisis in the region.
Rep. Kilmer led the effort to secure funding for the project through the House Appropriations Committee’s Community Project Funding process.
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