$5 Million and Change

Working Together to Reduce Energy Use and Win Big

Holland has made the semi-finals, becoming one of 50 cities competing to reduce residential and municipal energy use in a nationwide competition. The Georgetown University Energy Prize is offering $5 million to the contest winner, and the past year has seen our community off to a running start. Holland BPW plays a key role in the competition, working with City of Holland, the Community Energy Plan Home Energy Retrofit Taskforce and Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute on communication, education and providing financial incentives for energy reduction. In the past year, we worked to establish the baseline for the city’s energy use, led the development of the two-year reduction plan and continuously supported communications and education initiatives.

Establishing a Baseline

For competition judges to determine how much energy a community has saved, they need a firm understanding of the status quo. As the electric utility, HBPW has extensive data on usage citywide. Partnering with the city and natural gas provider, we helped compile an index of residence/building size, natural gas use and electricity use for 2013-2014. From there, we were able to calculate the total energy usage per square foot to identify where to focus consumption reduction efforts.

The "Energy Blitz"

On June 6, we joined in with an army of community volunteers to canvas the city, telling our neighbors about inexpensive ways to reduce their energy use. The “Energy Blitz” reached over 1,000 households, delivering to each an LED light bulb, a bag full of coupons for free energy audits, cash offers for old appliances, and a chance to win one of 125 Nest smart thermostats.

Quarterly Ward Competitions

The Georgetown University Energy Prize performance competition – the portion of the race where cities are measured for energy reduction – began in January of 2015 and will last through the end of 2016. In that same spirit of friendly competition, individual wards within the city are also participating in quarterly contests to see who can reduce the most energy. The first quarter of 2015 was a race to sign up residents for furnace tune-ups. The winner drawn from the top ward received a brand new high-efficiency furnace.  The second quarter encouraged residents to “Know Your Number,” and calculate their own usage per square foot figure.  The winner received a home’s worth of LED light bulbs.

Beyond these major initiatives, we continue to support wise energy use for all our customers through community education, energy assessments and rebates for installing energy efficient appliances. The Prize is within Holland’s reach, and we look forward to the momentum it brings the Holland area in reaching the goals of its 40-year Community Energy Plan.

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