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On Centre: Centre Region | COG hopes to hit energy jackpot

Centre Region officials are eying entry into a national energy competition that seeks to develop sustainable energy-saving innovations and that will eventually pay out a $5 million prize to the winner.

The Council of Governments voted at a meeting this week to submit a letter of intent to take part in the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, open to communities with populations between 5,000 and 250,000.

According to the project’s website, the multiyear competition “was born of a mission to tap the imagination, creativity and spirit of competition between communities across the country to develop sustainable energy-saving innovations.”

“Through this competition, communities will be challenged to work together with their local governments and utilities in order to develop and begin implementing plans for innovative, replicable, scalable and continual reductions in the per-capita energy consumed from local natural gas and electric utilities,” the website said.

Jim Steff, COG executive director, said that the letter of intent is non-binding, and will give Centre Region officials a chance to take a look at the program and see what would be required to move forward.

Steff said that COG isn’t equipped to handle the process on its own, and may need volunteers or help from Penn State to proceed.

“It could turn out we don’t have the resources to do it,” he said. “On the other hand, it could turn out through some partnerships we might be able to do it. And that’s what we’re trying to get right now, just to give us the opportunity to look into it a little bit more.”

Ferguson Township Supervisor Elliott Killian said that COG support for the entry could give it more weight.

“In my mind, it puts us at the top of the list in some regards that we are able to cooperate,” he said. “I think it gives us an advantage over other municipalities.”

According to the project’s website, participating communities will be asked to develop a long-term energy efficiency plan and to demonstrate initial effectiveness and sustainability over a two-year period.

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