Aspen in third place in Georgetown University Energy Prize | AspenTimes.com

Aspen in third place in Georgetown University Energy Prize

Staff report

Aspen is in third place in the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a national energy competition that challenges 50 U.S. towns, cities and counties to reduce their energy use and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency.

The competition will award $5 million to the community that reduces its energy consumption the most over the contest's two-year period.

Huntsville, Alabama, and Winter Park, Florida, are the two cities currently ahead of Aspen, respectively.

From January through June of this year, Aspen reduced 9.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 650,000 therms of natural gas.

This electricity reduction alone equates to $950,000 in utility bill savings as well as the annual usage of nearly 520 Aspen homes, according to a statement from city spokeswoman Mitzi Rapkin.

Since the competition took off this year, the city of Aspen has since implemented a number of energy-efficient programs to encourage the community to take action in reducing its energy consumption.

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Some of these incentives include subsidized energy assessments and rebates on LED light bulbs as well as a rewards program for property managers who reduce the energy use in the properties they manage.

The city will continue its rebate programs and working to increase communal awareness, like with its upcoming collaboration with the Aspen School District to host an Energy Awareness Week.

While the city has not yet nailed a specific week for its Energy Awareness Week, city Utilities Efficiency Specialist Ryland French said, "We are thinking sometime around Earth Week."

Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron said he wasn't surprised to see Aspen's high placement thus far.

"Aspen is already a leader in fighting climate change," said Skadron, who returned last week from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, in a statement. "Our standings demonstrate the enormous effort that has taken place to reduce our energy use and transition to cleaner sources of energy."

The competition determines its rankings by first comparing each community's energy usage from the beginning of the year with its results toward the end of the year.

The results are then compared with one another to see which community reduced its own usage the most. This data are then formulated into an overall energy score.

The Georgetown University Program on Science in the Public Interest leads the Georgetown University Energy Prize in partnership with the Georgetown University Environment Initiative and the McDonough School of Business Global Social Enterprise Initiative, according to French.

The prize also regularly collaborates with faculty and students across the University and has relationships with a range of about two dozen national and global organizations through sponsorship, partnership, advising, and public support roles.