Monroe County in National Competition

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For the next two years, people in Monroe County will compete against nearly 50 communities across the country to save energy in homes, municipal facilities and K-12 schools. The Monroe County Energy Challenge is a semifinalist for a $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.

January 14, 2015

News Release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - A broad community coalition has announced that the Monroe County Energy Challenge has been selected as a semifinalist for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.

Along with 49 other communities across the country, Monroe County will compete over the next two years to save energy in local residences, municipal facilities and K-12 schools. The winning community will receive $5 million to be used for additional energy projects. While universities are not included in the energy prize effort, Indiana University faculty, staff and students comprise a significant percentage of the residential population of Monroe County.

“Nearly three-quarters of IU students live off campus, so they can play a role in Monroe County’s success in this competition,” said IU Bloomington Director of Sustainability Bill Brown, who also serves on the local coalition’s residential committee. “IU people have been well-trained by the IU Campus Energy Challenge, which has saved 9 million kilowatt hours of electricity. We will be reaching out to our faculty, staff and students who reside in Monroe County.”

Monroe County Energy Challenge partners include both local school corporations, Monroe County government, the City of Bloomington, and the towns of Ellettsville and Stinesville. Vectren, Duke Energy, the South Central Indiana REMC and the Utilities District of Western Indiana are also supporting the effort.

“We’re just thrilled to be a part of this effort,” said Mike Farmer, utility superintendent for the Town of Ellettsville. “It’s really brought our communities together.”

“Bloomington’s real challenge is going to be our huge number of rental properties. We need to find champions out there who will help us lower energy use in both rentals and owner-occupied homes,” said Jacqui Bauer, sustainability coordinator for the City of Bloomington.

Monroe County Commissioner Julie Thomas added, “Five million dollars is a huge motivator and just gives more momentum to projects we’ve been working on already.”

The effort is being led by a multi-organizational task force as well as a number of subcommittees. The group is still seeking partners to help spread the word, share information on an energy-saving “Task of the Month” program, make improvements in their own homes, or create teams to work together to save energy. Committee members are needed as well.

Both households and schools will be critical components of the effort, and the team urged people across the community to get involved.

“Everyone can do something, even small things, that will make a difference,” said Dean Walendzak of the Monroe County Community School Corp.

Energy challenge volunteers will be at the Jan. 17 Winter Farmers Market, and both homes and volunteers are still needed for a Martin Luther King Jr. Day weatherization service project.

Source: Indiana University