In it to win it: Summit County competing for $5 million energy prize | ParkRecord.com

In it to win it: Summit County competing for $5 million energy prize

Summit County and Park City are partnering with other local entities to compete for a $5 million prize in a national energy-saving competition.

The county is among of 52 communities that advanced to the quarter-finals in August and submitted a long-term energy efficiency plan to Georgetown University on Nov. 10.

The proposal, organized through the local non-profit Summit Community Power Works (SCPW), outlined the county’s plans to reduce energy consumption throughout the next two years. Local entities, including the school districts and municipalities, contributed ideas and input for the project plan.

The competition, which begins Jan. 1, measures residential and municipal consumption of electricity and natural gas. It was "born of a mission to tap the imagination, creativity, and spirit of competition between communities across the country," according to the energy prize website.

"We’re really excited about our plan," Mary Christa Smith, SCPW project manager, said. "We really see an opportunity to win because our community is already so engaged and connected. We have an incredible advantage."

The first initiative SCPW is promoting will focus on light efficiency. SCPW is working with Rocky Mountain Power to market the benefits of replacing light bulbs and considers Rocky Mountain Power a critical partner in the competition.

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"Part of the reason is that it’s simple, understandable and achievable," Smith said. "It’s much easier to change a light bulb than to change a window."

SCPW is also connecting with businesses to encourage broad-based participation in the initiatives and reach as many residents as possible.

Shawn McNair, store manager for Ace Hardware, 192 W 200 S, in Kamas, has a Light Emitting Diode, or LED, lighting display in his store near the entrance. LED lights are reportedly 80 percent more efficient than incandescent light bulbs.

McNair said he noticed a similar display in a Houston, Texas store and thought it was worth investing in his own.

"The LEDs sell incredibly well now," McNair said. "A lot of people weren’t really sure about LEDs, but now that we’ve explained it to them it gives them a little more product knowledge."

The SCPW website will launch sometime in the middle of December and the competition runs from January 2015 to December 2016.

For now, Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Matt Abbott said the plan is to educate the community.

"We just want them to know where we are at," Abbott said. "People can like our Facebook page and visit the website as soon as it launches.

"We’re just trying to get ready for January and we have plenty of work ahead of us. I’m really looking forward to launching," Abbott said.

At the Council of Government’s meeting on Tuesday in Coalville, Park City Mayor Jack Thomas expressed his interest in the city participating in the program.

"It’s great timing for us and think this should be an interesting thing to go for," Thomas said. "Conserving energy is really going to be in our best interest."

Based on the submitted plans and proposals, the Energy Prize team will select communities who will be invited to compete as semi-finalists in the competition, according the energy competition website.

But even if Summit County isn’t chosen as a finalist, Summit County Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Yoder said the county would still move forward with the long-term plan.

"Energy reduction is important here," Yoder said. "And regardless of whether we continue in the competition or not, we still want to reduce residential energy usage."

For more information about the Georgetown Energy Prize go to http://www.guep.org or visit Summit Community Power Works’ Facebook page.

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