Fort Scott to participate in Take Charge Challenge

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fort Scott will be among 16 cities in four regions participating in the Take Charge Challenge, an energy efficiency contest coordinated by the Climate and Energy Project and sponsored by the Kansas Energy Office in partnership with communities and utilities across the state.

The challenge began last year as a friendly competition between six communities in Kansas to see which one could reduce their energy use the most. The result was an overall savings of $434,232 in energy costs, according to information provided by the competition organizer Climate and Energy Project.

This year, the competition has picked up steam and will include 16 cities in four regions, with each regional winner receiving a $100,000 community lighting retrofit. Fort Scott will be competing against Pittsburg, Parsons, Chanute and Iola. The competition began in October and will run through the end of September 2011, with tracking starting at the first of the year.

"We are competing against rival cities, so that is kind of fun," Fort Scott Assistant City Manager Susan Brown said.

The city will receive a $25,000 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the Kansas Energy Office to fund the challenge. The spending of the money will be determined by the city, CEP and the regional coordinator.

According to www.takechargekansas.org, the competition is scored on Switches Per Capita. Each time a resident enters a switch to a compact fluorescent light bulb in the Web page, the number of bulbs are counted alongside the others from the community. The total number of switches is then divided by the population.

Quitner, last year's winner, earned the greatest long-term savings -- more than 200 kilowatt hours per person -- and Merriam, which won the grand prize for most kilowatt hours saved, got its choice of a wind turbine for their school, or solar panels or energy efficiency improvements for a civic building.

The competition last year ran from April through the end of March and saw tremendous results. According to information from CEP:

* More than 6 million kilowatt hours were saved.

* More than 50,000 light bulbs were switched to the compact fluorescent variety.

* Hundreds of weatherization kits and energy-saving power strips were distributed.

* More than 1,000 programmable thermostats were installed and more than 200 energy efficient appliances were set up.

* Some 2,600 volunteer hours were donated to host 65 community events that were attended by more than 11,000 people.

The CEP's goal is halting the Midwest's contributions to global warming and climate change by supporting the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, increasing energy efficiency and developing renewable energies in a sustainable manner.

For more information on CEP, visit www.climateandenergy.org.

For more information on the Take Charge Challenge, visit www.takechargekansas.org.