OLATHE, (Johnson County Square) – Gardner is ready to take charge of its energy conservation efforts in the hopes of winning an energy efficiency or renewable energy community project worth up to $100,000.
On Thursday, June 23, the city is celebrating the opening of the American Energy Auditors (AEA) facility, 29550 West 191stStreet, which will also serve as Gardner’s Take Charge! Challenge headquarters. The public event will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sponsors include the Kansas Energy Office and the Johnson County Sustainability Office.
Featured speakers will be Johnson County Commissioner Calvin Hayden, representing the Sixth District, along with representatives from the state’s Take Charge! Challenge program and the AEA. Invited guests include officials from Gardner City Hall and the Gardner Chamber of Commerce.
Located next to the Shell Gas station at I-35 and the Gardner Road exit, the American Energy Auditors is partnering as a Take Charge! Challenge hub to educate citizens and train auditors how to make homes more energy efficient. The event will feature activities for children, information on energy conservation, giveaways, food, and fun.
The Take Charge! Challenge competition involves 16 cities in four regions of the statethat are competing  against each other to see which community can save the most energy by reducing residential and small business energy use. Gardner is going head-to-head with three other cities in the northeast region: Paola, Ottawa, and Baldwin City.
The friendly competition is sponsored by a $1.2 million grant from the Kansas Corporate Commission’s Kansas Energy Office and managed by the state’s Climate and Energy Project. The top prize is $100,000 energy grant from the Kansas Energy Office.
In 2010, Merriam received $10,000 in the Take Change! Challenge against the Kansas communities of Quinter, Salina, Mount Hope/Haven, Wellington, and Kinsley.Merriam topped the field for the most kilowatt hours saved in energy consumption, reducing the city’s residential energy usage by 5.5 percent.
The 2011 Take Charge! Challenge began in January and continues until the end of September. Winners from each region will be announced in October.
Cities and businesses in the competing communities are asking their residents to:
• Schedule an Efficiency Kansas home energy audit.
• Make the switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. CFL bulbs use less power and have a longer life. Go to www.TakeChargeKansas.org to register the bulbs switched in your house and business.
• Attend a Take Charge! Challenge event.
More information about the Gardner Take Charge! Challenge effort is available by contacting Melissa Mundt, Interim City Manager, at (913) 856-0942.