Blacksburg gets ready for next steps in aiming for $5 million prize

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Blacksburg gets ready for next steps in aiming for $5 million prize (Image 1)

BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - Blacksburg is in the running for $5 million for doing what it's been aiming to do for years.

"It's a great incentive for us to launch the work we already wanted to do in the community," said Town Sustainability Manager Carol Davis.

Davis says Blacksburg has been working to cut energy consumption since town council signed onto the Mayor's Climate Action Commitment in 2006. It has worked on the "why" and "what" when it comes to conserving and saving money but now with millions up for grabs from the Georgetown University Energy Prize, "Now we need to move on to the how to really get down to it," Davis said.

Blacksburg is one of 50 communities nationwide trying to win the competition. Charlottesville and Arlington are the other two Virginia localities in the running. It's designed to get communities to rethink their energy use and to find ways to conserve. Semi-finalists were announced last week and Blacksburg is now moving to put plans into action.

If the past is any indication, Blacksburg may be in a good position to move on. Its Solarize Blacksburg initiative--- launched in March 2013, long before the Georgetown competition-- led to nine other Virginia communities following suit. It led to more than a million dollars in energy investment in Blacksburg alone.

"We are hoping to launch another round of Solarize Blacksburg but are hoping to integrate energy efficiency and conservation measures," Davis said.

It's ideas like that Georgetown is looking for. Plans that now only reduce energy, but are spelled out in detail so communities across the country can replicate them. Blacksburg is working with local utilities, Appalachian Power, Virginia Tech Electric and Atmos as it will have to submit quarterly reports over the next two years showing its consumption.

Davis says they'll reach out to the community-- and push programs like cold water washing that come with no cost but lots of potential savings.

"About 90% of the energy that goes into washing laundry water heating so that something that you can do today," she said.

It's savings that can lead to a big reward if Blacksburg makes it to the finals in 2017.

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