Summit Community Power Works launches new initiative | ParkRecord.com

Summit Community Power Works launches new initiative

Summit Community Power Works is making its first big push since the organization merged with Utah Clean Energy over the summer.

Summit Community Power Works launched a new initiative at the end of August, challenging 200 Summit County households to reduce their overall carbon emissions by December. Utah Clean Energy absorbed Summit Community Power Works over the summer. The nonprofit Utah Clean Energy has worked across the state on solutions to help communities transfer to clean energy systems since the early 2000s.

The challenge is designed to provide Park City and Summit County residents with tools and resources to help in the community's overall goals to significantly reduce the carbon footprint. Approximately 40 households had signed up as of Thursday.

The challenge is centered on a new online platform that launched on Aug. 27, according to Kevin Emerson, energy efficiency program director for Utah Clean Energy and project lead for Summit Community Power Works. Participants will have access to about 70 different tips that will help reduce their impact.

"We will be using this primary platform to effect change in the residential sector until we feel like the community has really embraced all of the actions they can take on a daily basis," he said. "The cool thing about the challenge is that once community members log on, then it is a really easy way to track individual carbon reduction and what is happening on a community level."

When someone visits the website, they will be able to create a profile to be automatically grouped with others in their neighborhood. The challenge is also designed to allow participants to create additional teams to compete against each other.

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Some of the actions users will be encouraged to take include making small adjustments to thermostats or water heaters. There are also categories focused on making energy-efficient choices, such as taking public transportation or buying local food.

"They are all actions you can select to commit to take, and once you have completed the action and it becomes a part of your daily routine, the site will calculate the impact," Emerson said.

The Park City and Summit County councils are expected to engage in the challenge, in the hopes of encouraging greater participation. Summit County's elected officials passed a resolution in October of 2017 pledging to help the community completely transition to renewable electric energy by the year 2032. The County Council joined a handful of other counties in the country making similar declarations. Park City set a similar goal in 2016 of having a net-zero carbon footprint.

"Local government representation is a really important part of this challenge," Emerson said.

The Summit County Council is expected to authorize participating in the challenge later this month.

While the challenge is designed for homeowners, businesses will be encouraged to participate as well, Emerson said. Part of the coordination comes from the Watt Smart community plans that have been developed with Rocky Mountain Power.

"We will be talking to Rotary clubs and homeowners associations on an ongoing basis to help spread the word and let community members understand things they can do," he said. "You'll see us around with our partners from different organizations."

Emerson said Utah Clean Energy will help the community reach "really ambitious" goals. When it comes to residential actions, he said, the primary mechanism for people to learn how to adopt more carbon-friendly practices will be in coordination with other partners, such as Recycle Utah, the Park City Community Foundation, and the Summit County and Park City governments.

"The momentum is there and this new challenge is really designed to be an ongoing challenge to help all community members reach community-wide reduction goals," he said. "We are really excited and honored to take the reins for this community intuitive. We don't expect anything to change. It's still designed for and to be influenced by the Park City and Summit County communities."

Lisa Yoder, Summit County's sustainability coordinator, said the county completely supports the new initiative under Summit Community Power Works. She said the county, which has representation on the Summit Community Power Works' advisory board, contributed funds to the challenge.

"That helps guide program implementation so that we maintain recommendation based on our knowledge of the community's goals," she said. "It's similar to the past in that we will continue to support programs through Summit Community Power Works that will help meet the Council's objectives and goals."