Eye on the Prize: South Burlington Entry Is In!

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Thursday July 17, 2014

With the enthusiastic support of the City Council, South Burlington has officially submitted its application to compete in the Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP). Based on countless hours of preparation by members of the city’s Energy Committee, interested volunteers, and community partners (such as Green Mountain Power, Vermont Gas, city schools and teachers, area colleges, and many others), the application outlines a wide variety of projects that are aimed at reducing electricity and natural gas use by the residential, school, and municipal sectors.
The big prize is $5 million dollars, for the winning community to spend on energy reduction projects. To compete for the prize, South Burlington must pass through an initial screening process, and if (as we expect) our proposal meets their criteria, we will submit a more detailed program plan, as well as a request for seed funding to help implement our projects. GUEP will be making grants of $50,000 to $100,000 to communities to cover some of the costs.

If we become a finalist community, South Burlington will keep track of energy uses in the designated sectors from January 2015 through December 2016. The winner of the competition will be selected based on two criteria: 1) how much energy reduction does the community accomplish (weighted for population, climate, etc.), and 2) how innovative and transferable to other communities are its programs and projects.

The challenge, then, is to get the people of South Burlington aware, enthused, and activated. In addition to this column in The Other Paper, the Energy Committee will develop many public outreach activities to keep people informed about the competition and to let them know how we are progressing.

Enthusiasm will come from a combination of cooperation and competition. Members of our community will share energy saving tips with each other and our institutions. Neighbors will challenge neighbors to join the effort. Community partners will help develop effective ways to cut electric and gas use. Moreover, through the whole process, we’ll get “energized” (excuse the pun) to outdo other communities in the competition.

I know what you’re thinking: “What can I do?” or “How can I help?” This competition is a big undertaking— we will need a lot of people power to implement all the good ideas already in the application. We also need a lot of brain power to develop even more ideas, tactics, and strategies in this city wide effort.

Here’s what you can do and how you can help. Go to http://energyprize.org to submit your ideas. The easy to navigate site will ask for your ideas on reducing residential use, reducing municipal/school use, and how the city should spend the $5 million prize if we win. Your ideas are welcome and needed.

While you are on the website, let us know if you’d consider volunteering in some way to lead South Burlington forward. Everything from block parties to mentoring neighbors about energy savings will help the cause. How about working with school kids? How about convincing residents and taxpayers that reducing our energy bills puts money in our pockets and lowers our taxes? Whatever your time commitment or area of interest, we would love for you to work with us. Just put your contact information in the website and we will help YOU find the perfect way to help your community win the Energy Prize.

Next time: look for a new series on alternative, renewable energy sources.

SOURCE: Fred Kosnitsky, SB Energy Committee