Chula Vista Selected as Semifinalist in $5 Million Energy Prize
On January 14, Cleantech San Diego member city Chula Vista officially advanced to the Semifinal round of the $5-million Georgetown University Energy Prize (GUEP), a national competition that is challenging communities across the U.S. to rethink their energy use. By entering the Semifinal round, communities agree to track and reduce their energy consumption. The community that demonstrates the highest-ranking in performance, innovation, and community engagement at the end of the two years will be awarded a first place prize up to $5 million. At a press event in Washington, D.C., Chula Vista was announced as one of the 50 communities who are leading the way on energy efficiency.
City Manager Gary Halbert said, “Since the late 1990s, the City of Chula Vista has been actively engaging community members in implementing programs, policies, and services to help them reduce their energy use and lower community-wide greenhouse gas emissions. As such, the City is eager to build upon this past success by undertaking the GUEP’s groundbreaking approach to developing successful community-based energy efficiency programs.”
The City of Chula Vista has a long history of developing energy efficiency programs and policies and collaborating with community partners, especially San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). SDG&E’s Director of Customer Programs, Lisa Davidson, explains, “Since 2006, SDG&E and the City of Chula Vista have participated together in a Local Government Partnership (LGP) that has resulted in innovative approaches to advance municipal and community energy efficiency. LGP components include municipal facility efficiency improvements, strengthened building energy codes and inspections, energy-saving development planning and design, and community-based energy conservation education and facility evaluations.”
Through the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition, the City of Chula Vista will be actively reaching out to residents to encourage and help them save energy. Most notably, the City’s Home Upgrade, Carbon Downgrade (HUCD) program provides Chula Vista residents with information on state and regional programs, incentives, rebates and financing regarding energy and water efficiency. To date, the HUCD program has provided hundreds of residents with free home energy and water evaluations, helping to raise awareness and promote action towards a sustainable lifestyle. This leadership has resulted in Chula Vista being recognized by numerous regional and national organizations including SDG&E (2012 and 2014 Energy Champion Award), California Air Resources Board (2013 Cool California Finalist), and federal EPA (2014 Climate Leadership Award).
“The City of Chula Vista, as well as mayors and executives across the county, have told us that this Prize gives them the momentum to accelerate their energy efficiency efforts,” said Dr. Francis Slakey, Founder and Executive Director of the Georgetown University Energy Prize. “These Semifinalist communities are leading the way for other small- and medium-size cities and counties to secure their energy efficient future.”
Working with non-profits and other community organizations to promote energy efficiency is a key component of Chula Vista’s plan. Kathryn Lembo, CEO and President of South Bay Community Services said, “the City of Chula Vista has assisted us in incorporating energy and water efficiency information in our programming and we are eager to work with and support the City again.”