Summit County takes first quarter lead in energy-savings competition
September 11, 2015
Summit County has powered up for Georgetown University’s national energy-saving competition more than any other community and now stands at the top of the leaderboard in the contest for a $5 million prize.
According to Mary Christa Smith, project manager for Summit Community Power Works, which is the local non-profit organization spearheading the local entry, Georgetown University officials recently updated the representatives of the 50 communities pursuing the prize. Summit County is ranked No. 1 during the first quarter of the two-year competition.
"It’s so exciting," Smith said. "They haven’t released it publicly on their website yet, although they shared it with all of us. We just didn’t want to wait any longer to share the news."
The results are based on the first-quarter of the competition from January until March. Smith cautioned that the rankings could shift as more data are received from the various communities, but added "the first look is truly encouraging news."
Since the county was announced as a semifinalist in January, Summit Community Power Works has led several community-wide initiatives working with the school districts and municipalities. The non-profit organization has encouraged businesses and residents to switch from incandescent to more environmental friendly light emitting diodes, known as LED bulbs. A project manager has been hired to continue the effort throughout the school districts.
"I think that part of it is the work that we have done within the schools," Smith said of the county’s lead in the competition. "I think that is part of it, as well as the good sustainability work that Park City Municipal and Summit County have already been doing that is just growing and coming online."
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City Hall recently replaced bulbs in the China Bridge garage with LED bulbs and the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District followed suit at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse, Smith said. Solar panels have also been installed at the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center, the Marsac Building, Park Avenue police station, transit campus outside the Public Works Building and the Summit County Justice Center.
Smith said the efforts to reach out to the community will continue with several grass-roots campaigns. A Boy Scout troop in Kamas will conduct a door-to-door campaign to educate residents about the benefits of participating while handing out donated light bulbs. Education classes geared toward adults have also been held, Smith said.
"If we can just have people switch their lightbulbs," Smith said. "I know we keep coming back to this, but it makes a difference and it’s the simplest thing to do. If everyone did that, we would have other communities chasing us. We have to up our game. We have a lot of reductions available to us and that gives us an advantage, frankly."
Smith encouraged members of local organizations to contact Summit Community Power Works to learn how to get more involved in the competition. The organization will host an energy fitness challenge of October and has announced plans to participate in the Park City Community Foundation’s Live PC Give PC event in November.
"The good work that Park City municipal and Summit County have been doing is tremendous and we need the residents to follow suit because the local government is setting a great example and in each of our homes we can follow that example," Smith said. "We are just hoping to blow it out of the water. We are hoping to expand this message and initiative just through the roof."
The county is among 50 communities attempting to significantly reduce energy consumption throughout the next two years. The competition began Jan. 1. It measures residential and municipal consumption of electricity and natural gas. It "challenges towns, cities and counties to rethink their energy use and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency," according to the energy prize website.
To sign up to participate in the competition visit http://scpw.org/ . For more information about the Georgetown Energy Prize and to track the competition’s progress, visit http://www.guep.org . Summit Community Power Works also has a Facebook page.
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