Holland is one of more than 50 cities that have already announced they will compete for the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national competition that challenges communities to rethink their energy use.
When the competition concludes in 2017, one of the competing communities will be awarded a $5 million prize for use on energy-efficiency programs.
“Holland aspires to be world class in everything we do,” said Mayor Kurt Dykstra, “and that includes managing our energy usage. The Georgetown University Energy Prize competition is an ideal opportunity for the Holland community to demonstrate our ability to save money while enhancing the environment at the same time.”
At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Georgetown University Energy Prize officials said the competition is now officially open for nearly 9,000 eligible U.S. communities with a population between 5,000 and 250,000. More than 50 cities have already signed a letter of intent to compete.
If Holland is selected to advance to the quarterfinal phase, Dykstra said city officials and the Holland BPW will work closely with Semco Energy, the Holland Community Sustainability Committee and others to submit its energy-saving plan. Semco Energy has natural gas customers in the city.
Holland will use its long-range Community Energy Plan, developed in 2011 by the city with the guidance of Garforth International, as the template for the application. Since the CEP was developed, seven citizen-led task forces have formed to develop implementation plans for scale projects including: Home Energy Retrofit, District Heating, Industrial Park Integrated Energy Services, Building Energy Performance Labeling, Electric Generation, Commercial and Industrial Energy Efficiency, and Education and Outreach.
Once Holland’s plan is submitted, it will be evaluated against applications from other interested communities and considered for potential advancement to the semifinals. The competition will conclude in 2017, when one winning community is awarded the $5 million prize for use on energy-efficiency programs that help ensure the continued implementation of its long-term energy-saving plan.
The competition is designed to challenge small to medium-sized towns, cities and counties to rethink their energy use and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. In competing for the Energy Prize, local governments, residents, utilities and other entities will need to work together to demonstrate success in implementing a sustainable plan that reduces energy consumption over a two-year period.
“Many homes, schools, businesses, governments and individuals have already begun to do their part in reducing energy consumption — but it’s not enough,” said Francis Slakey, executive director of the Georgetown University Energy Prize. “In order to fully realize the benefits of the energy-efficiency initiatives, we must commit to addressing our national energy problem together, one community at a time.”
City officials say the competition comes at a good time for the lakeshore town.
“The Georgetown University Energy Prize competition is exactly what Holland needs to galvanize our multi-year efforts to implement Holland’s Community Energy Plan,” said Ryan Cotton, city manager.
“We hope to learn best practices and communicate ways to save energy, save money and increase environmental quality of life improvement for our residents as an outcome in addition to competing for the prize. Each community can become a winner in the competition.”
The Holland BPW is the city-owned enterprise providing electric generation and distribution, water, wastewater treatment and broadband utility services to nearly 28,000 business and residential customers in the Holland area.