Columbia to Participate in Energy Competition

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia is planning to participate in an energy competition that could land it a hefty prize.

The Georgetown University Energy Prize will award $5 million to a city that reduces its energy use the most over the course of two years. Cities and counties in the U.S. with populations ranging from 5,000 to 250,000 are eligible to compete.

Lelande Rehard is a management fellow at the city manager's office. He said Columbia expects to compete with about 50 other cities to win the monetary prize. 

"It's trying to use kind of the spirit of competition to inspire innovation and energy savings," Rehard said.

Columbia recently sent a letter of intent to Georgetown University, stating it plans to participate in the competition. Each city competing is also required to submit an application with an energy plan that it will use to reduce energy within its community. The application is due in June. 

"We have lots of ideas right now," Rehard said. "I think one of the big ideas is bringing that spirit of competition that's got us so excited to our community. Whether it's neighborhoods competing with neighborhoods, or schools competing with schools or just us showing how we compete with any other SEC schools competing in this competition as well."

Rehard said the city also plans to promote its current energy conservation programs. Ameren Missouri, Boone Electric Cooperative, the University of Missouri, Central Missouri Community Action and Columbia Public Schools have also agreed to participate and provide energy data throughout the competition. 

"It's all about reducing your energy, your electric cost," Rehard said. "Anything from weatherization programs and really promoting those, to home performance audits, to helping people turn in inefficient appliances and get more energy efficient appliances."

Rehard said improving energy conservation at Columbia rental properties is also something the city would like to achieve.

Ways to reduce energy in your home include checking wall and floor insulation, door and window sealing and heating and cooling equipment.

"It's always great to reduce energy and if we can use this as kind of a, some momentum to get people excited about it, then great," Rehard said.

Rehard said if Columbia won the $5 million prize, it would use it toward implementing the energy savings program it created in the competition.