Project launches Jan. 15
January 2, 2015
Being involved in a project that requires collective participation to be successful inspires Mary Christa Smith.
Smith is the project manager for Summit Community Power Works (SCPW), the local non-profit organization responsible for Summit County and Park City’s attempt to bring home the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.
The competition will measure residential and municipal consumption of electricity and natural gas during the next two years.
"To be involved in something where we can tap that community energy and bring together people’s good will in a way that makes a difference is the greatest sense of satisfaction that I know," Smith said.
Georgetown University will make the official announcement on Jan. 14 of who will be invited to compete as a semi-finalist for the main prize in the national energy-saving competition. SCPW will then formally launch the project on Jan. 15. The competition runs from January 2015 to December 2016.
"I think the announcement is important because it energizes us collectively across the
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nation," Smith said. "Georgetown University is looking to create a big change in the way people think about and consume energy. This is simply the catalyst and the communities moving forward over the next two years bring together not only the energy of those communities, but the nation."
Those involved with the project have said it will go forward regardless of whether Summit County remains in the competition.
SCPW’s goal for 2015 is to reduce county-wide electric and natural gas consumption by 20 percent "through the use of smart technology initiatives including LED lights, smart controls, weatherization, and renewable energy," according to the SCPW website.
The project has been met with great enthusiasm throughout the community as people want to participate in "something bigger than themselves," Smith said.
"There is a community spirit that I can sense amongst the excitement to participate," she said. "Yes they want to save money, but the big motivator and excitement has come from the opportunity of one big effort from everyone in the county. That’s what lights people up inside."
This month, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Power, SCPW is launching an Light Emitting Diode (LED) program initiative focused on light efficiency.
"We’ve been getting our LED action plan up and running and we have created a chart that we are having printed right now that asks residents to count their LED light bulbs and calculate your savings," Smith said.
SCPW is also in the process of creating curriculum for local schools that will use the LED action plan in conjunction with the course standards for teachers.
"We are meeting with the faculty of the South Summit school district in the first two weeks of January and we’re also meeting with all of the principals in the Park City district," Smith said.
SCPW has met with local organizations and clubs in an outreach effort that has been going on the past few weeks and will continue into the coming months.
"The initial response I get has been very positive and have had people come forward to volunteer," Smith said. "We hope to learn a lot about what’s working and where the challenges and opportunities lie as we roll it out to the broader community, so we can be more skillful in our approach."
Kamas Mayor Lew Marchant said, as the program is launched the city will be interested in finding ways to become involved.
"We are certainly one of those communities that are in favor of doing what we can to conserve energy," Marchant said. "We will definitely support and be part of that as the organization gets everything to come together and we will support it and do what we can."
Park City Environmental Coordinator Matt Abott said the project is ahead of schedule and progressing as planned.
"We have all of our ducks in a row and I’m curious to start to see how we are going to gain traction and what is going to work and what is not going to work," Abott said.
SCPW is a Park City Community Foundation project that has partnered local entities, including the school districts and municipalities, with 15 organizations throughout the community and state to reduce energy consumption.
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