Grays Harbor County, Wash. (April 16, 2024) – Western Washington rural K-12 school district, Ocosta, is partnering with McKinstry on an 81kWH solar and storage microgrid project set to kick off this summer. Consisting of rooftop-mounted solar and several Tesla-made power walls, the project will serve as a one-of-a-kind emergency shelter and power hub for students, staff, and the community at the coastal elementary school.

Known for its robust cranberry farming and bountiful fishing, Ocosta’s small district serves Westport, Grayland, Ocosta, Markham, and Tokeland with around 560 students in two schools. The district’s microgrid system built and designed by McKinstry will use the elementary school’s existing infrastructure as the foundation for a rooftop earthquake and tsunami shelter. Built-in 2016, the current open-air shelter offers safety in height, away from potential tsunami waves and was the first vertical tsunami shelter

in the U.S. At the time, the one-of-a-kind shelter garnered media coverage from the Seattle Times, Fox News,

National Geographic and WIRED. Once the microgrid is complete, the new shelter’s rooftop-mounted solar canopies will offer additional water protection as well as shade from the sun. In addition to its 1-to-2,000-person capacity, the updated shelter will offer up to 72 hours of emergency power for smartphones and emergency communication systems like radios and lights. These emergency power reserves are made possible by the on-site sun-harnessing solar panels that not only power the school but save excess power for weather-related emergencies coastal communities like this are all too familiar with. To ensure there is minimal disturbance to students and their learning, construction is set to begin in June 2024 while students enjoy their summer. Speaking on the unique project and its impact on this small district, senior

Building Energy Program manager, Matthew Walker shared, “These coastal towns are a natural fit for solar and storage solutions. Sunny beach days generate useful power that is stored for those sometimes-disastrous coastal weather patterns. McKinstry is proud to support the district in its efforts to use its environment to its advantage while also keeping students, staff and the community safe – all the while building its sustainability portfolio along the way.”

This project is funded through grants from the Washington State Department of Commerce (Solar Plus Storage for Resilient Communities and Building Electrification), offering the district a cost-neutral solution with huge impact.