EnergyMobile visits schools



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From left, second grade students Levi Schroeder and Mason Powwell look inside the EnergyMobile Wednesday at Marlin Elementary School. The car visited three local schools throughout the day to promote sustainability to students. Scott Tenefrancia Buy Photos

Dozens of first and second-grade students ran up to the Monroe County Energy Challenge EnergyMobile car in hopes of being the first to sit in the drivers seat.

They formed a disorderly line behind their teacher, who would let them each sit in the car for a proposed, but not regulated, three ?seconds.

After everybody had his or her turn, it was time to talk about the reason the car was there.

The Monroe County Energy Challenge is a semifinalist in the Georgetown University Energy Prize, which challenges towns, cities, and counties to promote and affect sustainability in the form of a competition.

With the partnership of utility organizations such as Duke Energy, Vectren, Utilities District of Western Indiana REMC, and South Central Indiana REMC, the group has promoted sustainability in households and businesses.

The EnergyMobile was a result of work between Tom Moore, the manager of community engagement for the Vectren Foundation, and Jacqui Bauer, the sustainability coordinator for Monroe County.

“We thought that we could have our own events and invite people to come, but it attracts the same people, the people that are already interested in energy use,” Bauer said. “This is a good way to really say that we want to find those people who aren’t going to come to the event we put on at City Hall.”

The idea for the car was imagined the night before the group submitted their sustainability plan last ?November.

By March, Moore had gathered $60,000 worth of funding from Vectren, so they could implement the plan.

“I think a big theme of the energy challenge is people,” Moore said. “It’s getting folks engaged, aware, and excited. And realizing things that they can do, even small steps. Sort of taking the message to them, and I think that’s what the EnergyMobile does.”

Wednesday, the EnergyMobile traveled to three schools in the Bloomington area.

The Monroe County Energy Challenge has presented their plans to schools as well, encouraging teachers and students to practice and create their own methods to save energy, said Angela Harding, a second-grade teacher at Marlin Elementary School.

“We started a ‘lights out’ initiative, which is when the classes have their lights turned out whenever they’re able to have natural lighting from the windows,” Harding said. “So we’ve been doing that at Marlin, and we’re trying to get it spread out to all the other schools in the district.”

The semifinals of the competition will conclude in December 2016, and the finals will take place in the first half of 2017.

The winner of the competition will receive a $5 million prize that must be put toward energy efficiency programs for that ?community.

The goal is to create a program that will obtain long-term success.

“Regardless of if we win the $5 million prize or not, this stuff is going to keep paying people back over and over again,” Bauer said. “Whatever investments they make in energy efficiency will keep paying for themselves for years.”

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