Summit County’s ‘climate believers’ have made a big difference
The Park Record editorial, Dec. 28-30, 2016
Win or lose, Summit County has already gained enormous benefits from participating in the Georgetown Energy Prize competition. Thanks to Summit Community Power Works, the local nonprofit spearheading the effort, the community has seen a big reduction in energy consumption over the last 18 months.
According to the last available tally from Summit Community Power Works, 100 families have installed solar panels, 100,000 old incandescent light bulbs have been replaced with energy efficient LEDs and 250 families have installed smart thermostats.
According to SCPW those changes have reduced local energy consumption by 350 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 3.3 million cubic feet of natural gas.
Those efforts, along with other common-sense energy saving measures, have resulted in nearly $5 million in savings on electric and gas bills, to say nothing of reducing carbon emissions by as much as 50 tons.
So whether Summit County wins the Georgetown University prize, a hefty $5 million check, or not, residents can breathe more easily knowing they are doing their part to protect the environment.
In many cases, our kids have been the ones driving the changes. Elementary and middle school students around the county have been encouraging their elders to turn down the thermostat and switch out their light bulbs. No doubt you have seen the signs: “I made the Switch,” proudly planted in front yards all across the county.
Summit County/Park City is one of 50 semifinalists still in the running and at one point was ranked in the top four in contention. The contest wraps up New Year’s Eve. Then those who have worked so hard over the last year and a half will have to wait patiently for the results.
For our environmentally conscientious community, the bragging rights may be as important as the prize money. Park City voters have made it clear they do not support Congressional climate-change deniers and have elevated environmental causes to the top of their city and county agendas.
And there is another important incentive. By reining in CO2 emissions, local residents hope to stave off the potentially disastrous effects of global warming on their true passion: winter recreation. And whether or not Summit County gets top billing as the most energy conscious community in the country, they hope to enjoy snow-covered mountains long into the future.
The Georgetown Prize finalists will be selected between Jan. 1 and June 1, 2017, and will be asked to submit their final reports. A panel of judges will then award first, second and third place honors. In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to continue their efforts to save our snow.
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While one cyclist will earn the title of Tour of Utah champion on Sunday, Parkites doing the responsible thing and ditching their cars in favor of other ways to get to Main Street will make us all winners.