by Senator Ross Romero
Senate Minority Whip
Whitney Bitner, Rachel Dansie, Hannah Durham, Hannah Hoopes, Lizzie Egan, and Victoria Hoggan are seventh graders at Olympus Junior High School. The girls call themselves the Green Queens.
This year, the girls participated in the Lexus Environmental Challenge, a contest giving students an opportunity to help their communities. Their project is to encourage people to have more energy-efficient homes. They are trying to motivate people to perform an “energy audit” of their homes, evaluating their doors, windows, lights, cooling, and heating.
The Green Queens competed and are now one of 48 teams out of 525 teams to succeed in the first round. Now the Green Queens are competing in the final World Challenge. There will be 16 winning teams, and they hope to be one of them. If they win, the prize will be $50,000! Olympus Junior High School would receive $10,000, Ms. JoAnne Brown, their outstanding teacher, would receive $5,000 for her classroom, and $35,000 would be divided among the Green Queens for scholarships.
Can you help the Green Queens win the prize? Visit their blog and make a commitment to do an energy audit of your home. There are seven days remaining to make your pledge. March 26 is the last day! The girls need your help right now!
The Green Queens and President Obama share the same goals for energy efficiency. Vice President Joe Biden announced last week that Utah will receive, as part of the Obama stimulus package, $37 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program and $35 million for the State Energy Program. The funding will support weatherization of homes, including adding more insulation, sealing leaks, and modernizing heating and air conditioning equipment, which will pay for itself many times over.
The Weatherization Assistance Program will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades and will be available for families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level—or about $44,000 a year for a family of four.
The State Energy Program funding will be available for rebates to consumers for home energy audits or other energy-saving improvements, development of renewable energy projects for clean electricity generation and alternative fuels, promotion of Energy Star products, efficiency upgrades for state and local government buildings, and other innovative state efforts to help families save money on their energy bills.
I also wanted to share my experience with an energy audit I had performed about a year ago. A representative from Questar came in and spent about and hour looking over my appliances, water heater, insulation and general lay out. He then suggested some improvements and informed me how Questar and Rocky Mountain Power were participating in the energy audit and reimbursement program together. To name a few, my audit report recommended additional insulation around electrical outlets, insulation in attic and windows to be replaced. I took the audit’s advice and secured additional insulation and replaced some windows. I submitted my receipts and received a modest refund for the window replacements. The attic insulation however was basically covered by the reimbursement program.
I was glad to learn about what I could do to reduce my energy footprint through the energy audit process and have appreciated the per month savings I have received from my audit improvements. I would highly recommend taking part in this energy audit process and to see how you can make a difference.
Congratulations to the Green Queens for their outstanding efforts.