Local Energy Challenge Motivates for a Cooler Oregon

What if communities across the country banded together, in the spirit of friendly competition, to raise the bar on energy efficiency? Such a move would help create a cooler Oregon (both in the literal and proverbial sense), as we work to do our part to slow global warming, and help Oregon embrace long-term livability practices.

It is with in spirit that the Georgetown University Energy Prize came about. A multi-year, $5 million prize challenge, the Georgetown University Energy Prize asks communities to develop sustainable energy-saving innovations in collaboration with local governments and utilities, working together to reduce local energy consumption. What’s even more exciting about this competition is that our very own Bend and Corvallis are two of the 50 semifinalists selected to move on to the next and final stage of the competition. Semifinalists have developed long-term energy efficiency plans, and have until December 2016 to demonstrate its initial effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period.

BEC-logoBend’s local team in the energy challenge has dubbed itself the “Bend Energy Challenge,” a collaborative project of The Environmental Center and local utilities, government, schools and private businesses. The team hopes to persuade 5,500 Bend households and local government agencies to reduce their energy use by at least 10 percent at publicly owned and operated facilities throughout Bend.

If they win the prize, Bend will use prize money to assist low-to-moderate income families with energy retrofits and renewable energy system installations, and make immediate, one-time investments in 1-to-3 projects that reduce community energy use and provide public engagement and education opportunities around energy efficiency. They will also establish a local venture capital/angel investor fund to focus on clean energy innovation.

Corvallis’ team, “Energize Corvallis” has helped its community save 14,000 metric tons of C02 and over 25,000Energize-Corvallis-Stacked-Logo8-300x1001 gallons of gasoline from being released into the atmosphere. Team participants are given easy tips on how they can increase efficiency in their everyday lives through small changes like getting their furnaces serviced or replacing compact fluorescent bulbs with more energy efficient alternatives. A complete list of actions can be found here.

The next and final stage of the national competition invites semifinalists to submit and be scored on final reports on their community’s plan, performance, and future prospects. The $5 million prize would be awarded to fund projects that help the winning community save energy, embrace long-term livability and honor its land and lifestyle. Congratulations to Bend and Corvallis for making it into the semifinals; we’re rooting for you!

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