HEET still in running for $5M prize

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Melissa Davis, manager of the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team, updates the Houghton County Board on the Georgetown University Energy Prize competition. Houghton County is one of 50 semifinalists for the $5 million prize.

HOUGHTON — The Houghton Energy Efficiency Team is still waiting to find out if it was one of the 10 finalists for the national Georgetown University Energy Prize.

Houghton County was named in 2014 as one of 50 semifinalists for the prize, which will give $5 million to the community that demonstrates the largest increase in energy efficiency.

During the competition period of 2015 to 2016, electricity use declined relative to 2013-14 by 13 percent, versus 1.1 percent statewide. Natural gas declined by a comparable amount, said HEET manager Melissa Davis.

“I think our odds are good of at least getting into the top 10,” Davis said.

If Houghton County wins the prize, it will go into a revolving loan fund at the Keweenaw Community Foundation to cover upfront costs for residents to retrofit their homes for energy efficiency.

Davis also runs the local nonprofit New Power Tour, which is aimed at increasing the use of renewable, water and energy-efficient technologies, she said.

This summer, Davis said, New Power Tour has produced five videos to educate people about energy efficiency on its website, which Davis will be the first of a series.

New Power Tour also met with a subcommittee of the Houghton County Arena Board to discuss installing solar panels on the roof. Davis said a solar installment could pay for itself within 6 to 8 months.