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February 22, 2020

1/27/2020 10:44:00 AM
Iowa County starts conversation about Clean Renewable Energy District
Local community members have een busily looking at ways to build Iowa County in a more clean and energy efficient way. As a first step, Chuck Tennessen, along with the Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC), recently initiated a public information hearing at Dodgeville City Hall.
"We're exploring how our organization might help move forward, either an energy district, through an energy district model here in Iowa County or Southwest Wisconsin," Tennessen said to guests.
According to DALC's mission statement, the Driftless Area Land Conservancy's purpose is to maintain and enhance the health, diversity and beauty of Southwest Wisconsin's natural and agricultural landscape through permanent land protection and restoration, and improve people's lives by connecting them to the land and to each other.
Guests came from Iowa, Grant, Lafayette, Sauk and Vernon counties to listen to Joleen Jansen, a leader of the Clayton County, IA Energy District. (CEDI)
Now what is an Energy District? According to Jansen's presentation, "a Clean Energy District is a local institution created to strengthen communities by leading, implementing and accelerating the locally owned clean energy transition."
Jansen stated that Energy District models are already being practiced in Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Jackson, Johnson, Delaware and Winneshiek counties.
Jansen discussed barriers to a thriving community, and one pointed out in particular was the amount of money spent on energy.
"Today in the 21st century, very few of us gets by without consuming so energy on the daily basis," Jansen said. "We're consuming a lot of energy in everything we do, by looking at a screen, by being in a well lit room, arriving here by any kind of transportation, you consumed energy."
When it comes to financial resources, Jansen stated that much of a community's capital is spent on energy costs.
"Eighty percent of the millions of dollars that our counties spend annually on energy costs, leave our community and these dollars often go to the benefit of faraway investors of Monopoly energy companies," Jansen said. "Combined with the disruption of climate change ranges to extreme heat and cold, wildfires, sea level rises, flooding, biodiversity loss, intense storms, they're just flat out devastating our communities."
The vision of the Clean Energy District is to be 100% local and renewable energy by 2050. Jansen stated that Energy Districts help to stop carbon emissions and create climate stewardships.
Jansen said the first step in creating an energy district, is assembling a non profit board of people that represent diverse backgrounds.
"There's wisdom in defining an energy district by county lines," Jansen said. "That is what we are advocating for at this time."
Jansen continued the conversation and introduced Clayton County's home efficiency (direct install program). This program includes working with students from Northern Iowa University students and conduct energy audits in homes. They also take out non LED lightbulbs and swap them out with LED lightbulbs. They will also swap out aerators in sinks and replace shower heads.
The district also works closely with farm programs such as USDA, NRCS cost shares, and help determine ways for farmers to save on energy costs. These types of districts are possible through fundraising, grants and fees for services.
"I just ask you to consider if you're on the idea of local, clean, fair and inclusive energy generation," Jansen said. "This would be a great way for Iowa County to do so."






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