As a municipal utility, community input – from all ages – is key to the success of our energy planning. After all, our Energy Vision concludes with the statement “to enhance our quality of life for generations to come.”
Today’s youth are our future customers and decision makers. They are calling for increased transparency, greater inclusion and enhanced engagement.
But, are they interested in energy planning? If so, how do we capture their priorities? Do they want to be a part of the solution?
These were all questions we aimed to address as we embarked in a partnership with the Quad Innovation Partnership to capture youth priorities as we develop our long-term Electric and Gas Integrated Resource Plans (EIRP/GIRP). The Quad is a joint initiative between Colorado College, Pikes Peak Community College, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and the United States Air Force Academy that helps graduating innovators build careers that matter in the Colorado Springs area.
The Quad developed and executed a plan to collect information from local high school students. The goal was to help us better understand the many dimensions of the diverse opinions youth in Colorado Springs hold towards energy. To do this, the Quad hosted focus groups at five local high schools representing a broad segment of the community.
The schools that participated were St. Mary’s High School, Air Academy High School, Fountain Valley High School, Palmer High School and Atlas Preparatory High School.
The discussion these groups had was built to engage participants around the attributes that will be used to score the various portfolios developed during the EIRP/GIRP. The preliminary list of attributes includes cost, diversity, environment, flexibility, implementation, innovation, reliability and stewardship. Our Utilities Board will select a portfolio this summer that will serve as our long-term plan on how we best meet our community’s future demand for energy.
So, what did the Quad discover?
There was a resounding emphasis that the environment is most important to young people, reasoning that without it, we have nothing. Following environment, are reliability and cost. As for the remaining attributes, they go hand-in-hand and deserve equal merit.
While this partnership allowed us to learn more about the priorities of young people for this EIRP/GIRP process, the biggest takeaway for us is learning that students are hungry for more information about energy.
Young people live in and explore our cities, they have valuable insight into ways to make our future better and we must continue to explore tools that engage youth in planning.
As for next steps in the EIRP/GIRP process, we will share the results from a community-wide survey and host an Energy Planning Workshop. Information from these efforts will be used to finalize the list of attributes and their weightings to score the portfolios.
We also look forward to working with the Quad to further ways of engaging and educating our youth in our energy future.
Energy Planning Workshop
Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, 6 p.m.