Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition on Council Agenda – June 16

June 16 State College Borough Council Agenda

Briefing package sent to Council last week:

From the Brief:

CITY-GREEN is a community group established in Spring 2014, formally recognized as an advisory board by the Centre Region Council of Governments Public Services & Environmental Committee on May 29, 2014, and currently working to support a Central Pennsylvania-based community application for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.

We requested listing on the State College Borough Council’s June 16 regular meeting agenda to seek formal Borough Council acceptance of the municipal lead role in the GUEP application process. Following a “Yes” vote by the Council tonight on a motion to take on that leadership role, CITY-GREEN members are prepared to support the Borough’s application with assistance in collecting data, drafting application materials and providing technical expertise during the competition.

For more information about the GUEP Competition and supporting information, please see the attached documents…

Background – CITY-GREEN

CITY-GREEN’s mission is to promote renewable, sustainable energy in the State College area. Members and supporters include representatives from Transition Town State College, Steady State College, Spring Creek Homesteading, and Stop the PSU Pipeline. The group has been meeting roughly twice a month and circulating planning emails between meetings this spring, with the next meeting scheduled for June 24. Membership is open to public. CITY-GREEN Officers and Board Members: Chair Mike Rybacki; Vice-Chair Janet Engeman; Secretary Nari Soundarrajan; Assistant Secretary Alex Wiker; At-large Members: Scott Patterson; Mark Maloney; David Stone; Chad Horne; Laura Dininni Cusamano; Joe Cusumano.

Background – Georgetown University Energy Prize

GUEP organizers have set up the competition to create a specific, structured opportunity for municipal governments, public school districts, utility corporations and community groups to practice working together to cut aggregate energy consumption, and measure and report the results of their collaborative efforts. Georgetown University and competition sponsors are creating that practice arena by offering the “carrot” of the $5 million prize, as an extra benefit beyond the benefits to be gained during the competition process as the different groups learn to work together.

The GUEP Competition is open to any municipality with a population between 5,000 – 250,000, and communities will be judged primarily on the percent change in their aggregate consumption of electric and natural gas utility-supplied energy – by residential and municipal (Borough and State College Area School District) customers only – between the baseline period and the competition period.

The GUEP organizing committee has prepared a template Excel spreadsheet showing the utility data format they’re requesting on behalf of participating communities. To judge participating communities, GUEP is seeking aggregate baseline electricity and gas consumption data for 24 months preceding the contest (January 2012 through December 2013) and aggregate electricity and gas consumption for the 24-month evaluation period (January 2015 through December 2016). GUEP judges will enter the data into a formula to calculate the percentage of total energy consumption reduction between the evaluation period and the baseline period. The winning community will receive the $5 million prize to implement their 2017-2022 program.

“Selection of Finalists – Based on 48 months of data (24 months baseline, 24 months Stage 3)…Semi-finalists will be ranked by an Overall Energy Score (OES) that quantifies their energy-saving performance relative to the community’s baseline as a percentage change. The OES is based on the Adjusted Energy Use per Residential Bill (AEU) averaged over the baseline and Stage 3 Performance Competition periods…Decreased energy use will result in a negative OES, and the more negative the better. Note that for some communities the OES may be positive (increased energy use); the more positive the Energy Score, the lower the ranking.”

Utility participation is crucial – if West Penn Power and Columbia Gas will not share aggregate electric and gas consumption data, then State College won’t be able to compete with other communities who do have access to that aggregate data. CITY-GREEN members have already made contact with Joleen K. Hindman, Area Manager for the State College office of FirstEnergy – West Penn Power, who has begun the process of obtaining the relevant aggregate electricity consumption data, [Erin Kauffman with the Borough and Ed Poprik with State College Area School District have provided West Penn Power account numbers to facilitate the data collection] and we are actively reaching out to staff at Columbia Gas to establish a process for obtaining the gas utility data.

Centre Region Council of Governments – Public Services & Environmental Committee Involvement

Following a brief overview of the program, CR-COG entered the GUEP competition on March 28, 2014 via a Letter of Intent, intending to hold a place for the region while the PSE Committee investigated the staff time and budget logistics of COG participation. CRCOG was one of only 50 community applicants nationwide – out of over 8,700 eligible municipal areas in the U.S. – and the only community in Pennsylvania to apply.

At a special meeting for the purpose of discussing the GUEP competition on May 29, the Public Services & Environmental Committee engaged in careful deliberations, including feedback from COG staff about staff time availability and budget planning schedules. PSEC members include Chair Dennis Hameister (Harris Township); Vice-Chair Bryce Boyer (Patton Township); Elliot Killian (Ferguson Township); Sarah Klinetob
 (State College Borough); Susan Steele (Halfmoon Township) and Carla Stilson
(College Township). PSEC support staff include Pam Adams, CR-COG Refuse and Recycling Coordinator and CR-COG Planning Director Jim May.

There were three May 29 agenda items: whether to proceed with the next phase of the GUEP application, how to proceed, and who would “construct the deliverables.” Mike Rybacki and Nari Soundarrajan of CITY-GREEN sought endorsement of the next application phase submission – due June 30 – and stated that CITY-GREEN could do the work involved, with limited participation by COG-PSEC members and COG environmental planning staff.

After lengthy discussion, the PSEC members decided that COG and PSEC members hadn’t budgeted the time needed to pursue the GUEP competition further during the remainder of 2014. However, the Committee was very interested in using the momentum generated by the GUEP competition to push regional energy conservation programs forward. Among other supportive comments, Chair Dennis Hameister linked PSEC action on the issue to “dusting off” regional greenhouse gas studies conducted for COG by Brent Yarnal and other Penn State scholars in 2006 and 2010.

Elliot Killian made three motions, which were unanimously supported by the PSEC members:

  • That the COG-PSEC officially recognize CITY-GREEN as a community advisory board.
  • That the COG formally withdraw from the GUEP competition process, in a way that leaves an opportunity for the Borough of State College to amend the application and become the lead government agency for the project.
  • That COG staff put “energy conservation,” “energy efficiency” and “renewable energy” staff and project funding and time allocation into the 2015 Centre Region Council of Governments Program Plan, laying groundwork for strategic energy planning to become a top regional priority in the 2015 budget cycle.

Those three unanimous committee decisions have laid some very useful groundwork for the next few years; CITY-GREEN intends to continue working with COG on strategic regional energy planning as a recognized community advisory board.

State College Borough Council Involvement

Following COG-PSEC’s decision to withdraw from the competition, Mike Rybacki appeared at the June 2 Council meeting seeking a Council discussion, public hearing and vote to amend the application to apply to the Borough only, rather than the Centre Region.

If Council votes tonight in favor of Borough participation in the GUEP competition, the Borough will enter the competition on June 30, 2014, replacing CR-COG as the lead government agency for the application process.

The next step will be preparation of a proposed $5 million 2017-2022 energy conservation program spending plan, which will be drafted and submitted by the Borough with varying levels of input and assistance from the State College Area School District, CITY-GREEN, West Penn Power Columbia Gas and GUEP consultants. The spending proposal is due in November 2014. CITY-GREEN members and supporters have prepared a draft budget plan as a starting point, attached.

If the State College Borough GUEP application is accepted by Georgetown, our community will be assigned a GUEP-based community liaison to help us prepare our competition materials, and we will have access to technical assistance provided by Georgetown experts and GUEP supporters and advisers. Entry into the competition does not require the Borough to budget $5 million to implement proposed projects during 2015 and 2016.

Rather, the 2015-2016 period is for applicant communities to implement pre-existing energy savings programs and their own planned capital improvements, along with any interim grant-funded programs – and to document that work to demonstrate that their communities get good “bang for the buck” on energy projects and have a high capacity to get various sectors of the community working together on energy projects.

Procedural Next Steps

  • June 16 – CR-COG Executive Committee Meeting – Formal Vote to Withdraw CR-COG as the lead municipal agency on the GUEP competition.
  • June 16 – State College Borough Council vote on GUEP participation as lead municipal agency.
  • June 16 – If “Yes,” Borough Council appointment of a staff lead for the application process.
  • June 23 – CR-COG General Forum Meeting – Formal vote to withdraw CR-COG as the lead municipal agency on the GUEP competition
  • June 30 – Borough staff completion of the electronic application (guep.org/start-application) with significant assistance by CITY-GREEN volunteers.

 

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