Ever eager to encourage its customers to conserve energy, Rocky Mountain Power is bringing back a video contest that it hopes will increase awareness of the ways Utahns can scale back their use of electricity.
The contest will offer a first prize worth $10,000 for the best customer-produced video that illustrates energy-efficiency practices within the home.
"There are many ways we can all use electricity more efficiently," said Richard Walje, Rocky Mountain Power's president and CEO.
The company said the contest, which will accept entries March 8 through May 31, is designed to increase public awareness of the programs Rocky Mountain offers that can lead to lower monthly power bills by helping its customers use energy more wisely, he said.
Rocky Mountain Power last week received approval to hold the contest from utility regulators at the Public Service Commission. It needed permission from the PSC because the contest is expected to cost ratepayers around $102,500.
However, Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jeff Hymas said the utility believes the contest is a cost-effective way to reach out to the public and encourage energy conservation. He said the company expects the contest to produce benefits well in excess of the cost.
The contest is similar to one Rocky Mountain Power held in 2011 that was won by Jessica and Marty Patch of Salt Lake City.
The Patch's video, "Our Energy Story," described how, in refurbishing an older home, they were able to reduce their monthly power bills approximately 20 percent by taking a number of steps that included adding insulation to their attic, installing skylights, purchasing a 98 percent efficient heating and cooling system and placing florescent bulbs in all fixtures.
Unlike the 2011 contest, this year's event was without controversy.
Two years ago, the Office of Consumer Services questioned how the utility intended to measure the success of the contest. "We just wanted to make sure [the contest] was a good use of ratepayer funds," Michele Beck, director of the Office of Consumer Services, said at the time.
The Office of Consumer Services raised no objection this time around. "All of our questions were answered early in the [application] process," Beck said. "And we did have the benefit of having seen it [the contest] work one time before."
This year's contest is open to residential Rocky Mountain Power customers in Utah who are 18 years of age or older. Video, which can be 30 seconds to two minutes long, can be submitted through the utility's "Wattsmart" page on Facebook or at www.wattsmart.com">http://www.wattsmart.com.
Entries will be reviewed by a company-appointed panel of judges. They will select a grand-prize winner who will receive $10,000 that can be spent at Lowe's Home Improvement Centers for energy efficient appliances and other improvements.
In addition to the grand price, two runners up will each receive up to $2,500 in upgrades. An additional "people's choice" prize determined by online voting will provide up to $2,000 in upgrades. And, Utahns who vote on their favorite video will also have a chance to win a randomly selected "voter's award" of $500 in upgrades.
More information and contest rules