About 50 communities across the country will participate in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, a multi-year program that seeks to promote the development of sustainable, energy-saving solutions. Summit County, in partnership with Park City, is entering the contest, which will award a $5 million prize to the winner.
Each community in the energy prize competition will be given the challenge to formulate a long-term energy efficiency plan, achieving a per capita energy consumption reduction. Summit County Sustainability Coordinator Lisa Yoder says entering into this contest fits in perfectly with the county's 2014-2016 Sustainability Plan.
"One of my sustainability goals for the next three years is to implement a countywide energy efficiency plan," Yoder said, who added such a plan will apply to residential as well as business/commercial uses.
Yoder said the most important part of the energy efficiency plan will be educating the public on what she calls "the simple things people do on a daily basis without thinking," such as turning off lights and reducing water use.
The engagement and networking of residents during last year's Summit Community Solar program is a model Yoder wants to work off of, where neighbors tell each other about the program through word of mouth.
Right now, the energy prize competition is in the application stage. The contest itself will begin in 2015 with finalists to be chosen in the first half of 2017. The $5 million will be awarded to the winning community around June 2017. Awards will also be given for second and third places.
Matt Abbott, Park City's environmental project manager, said entering the competition will blend perfectly with the city's sustainability goals. He noted that moving away from traditional energy sources is crucial and important to the community, as last year's controversy over Rocky Mountain Power needing to expand one of its Park City power substations attests to.
"The [power] substation was a pretty huge debate. If we don't want to have to build new substations, reducing energy use is a good way to make things simple around here," Abbott said.
The county and city will engage Rocky Mountain Power and Questar in the energy efficiency plan, Yoder said, and energy use will be tracked for two years to monitor reductions.
Although many communities will participate in this contest and the announcement of the winner is several years away, Abbott said he envisions the $5 million prize being split up between various large projects, such as an in-county renewable energy development or an endowment to improve low-income housing.
In assessing communities' adherence to the guidelines of the energy prize competition, Georgetown University will judge each on their ability to do the following, according to its website:
For more information on the Georgetown University Energy Prize, visit guep.org.