Corvallis has a shot at a $5 million prize for its energy reduction efforts.
The city is a semifinalist in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, which is designed to encourage communities to reduce municipal and residential electricity and gas use. The 10 cities that reduce their energy use the most in 2015 and 2016 will advance to the finals, and one of those cities will take home the $5 million.
Corvallis is one of just two Oregon cities in the semifinals. Bend is the other one.
If Corvallis wins the prize, the money must be spent on energy efficiency programs that reward the community as a whole and provide for the long-term implementation of those plans.
The winner will be announced in 2017.
“We believe we can win,” said Cassandra Robertson, who gave a presentation on the Georgetown competition at the Jan. 20 City Council meeting. “Our city has already demonstrated national energy and climate leadership.”
Last June the city completed its first audit of greenhouse gas emissions, and a citizen task force has developed a climate action plan that the council is considering adopting as one of its goals for this two-year term.
Robertson is an environmental engineer with Energize Corvallis, which is leading the Corvallis campaign. Energize Corvallis is a collaboration between the city of Corvallis, Corvallis Environmental Center, Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and Oregon State University Extension Service of Benton County.
Residents can sign up for the program at EnergizeCorvallis.org.
There are a variety of ways residents can participate. They can work with nonprofits such as Clean Energy Works, Seeds for the Sol or Direct Install. The EnergizeCorvallis website notes energy-saving actions that residents can try and how prize points can be earned.
Direct Install is offering a free program of LED bulbs, kitchen and bathroom aerators and low-flow shower heads worth more than $100.
Chrissy Lucas of Energize Corvallis noted that the aerators and shower heads can lead to decreases in water usage of up to $40 per month depending on how many people live in the house.
Bulbs, aerators and shower heads were installed at the home of Jos Grandolfo, an Oregon State University graduate student who is studying energy policy, with an emphasis on wind farms. The pile of bulbs and water fixtures filled an armchair in the front room.
“I’m a student, and I don’t make a whole lot of money,” Grandolfo said as Sarah Spangler of Direct Install took care of the installation at the house Grandolfo rents in South Corvallis.
“As a renter, it’s kind of expensive to replace the light bulbs.”
Lucas said that most shower heads use 2.5 to 3 gallons per minute, while the energy-efficient ones use 1.75 gallons a minute. Sink savings are even greater. Kitchen aerators use 1.5 gallons a minute (compared to up to 3 gallons for standard models) and bathroom sinks use 1 gallon a minute instead of the usual 3.0.