June 11, 2020 – The newly formed Vernon County Energy District elects officers and creates an organization with a vision of “retaining energy dollars in Vernon County, by promoting the wise and efficient use of energy and encouraging the transition to locally owned and operated renewable energy sources.” The non-profit was founded on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, as a response to increasing vulnerability of a fossil fueled energy platform.
The idea of an energy district comes from the soil conservation districts founded in 1933, Coon Valley WI, to protect water and soil, the lifeblood of rural agricultural economies. Farmers and ecologists joined forces to protect the resources that are the foundation of agricultural production. That model was repeated across the country, in what we know today as soil conservation districts in nearly 3000 counties across the country.
Newly elected board members are(from left to right) Rob Danielson (La Farge), Jim Olson (Viroqua), Alicia Leinberger (Viroqua), Toby Grotz (Viroqua), Samantha Laskowski (La Farge), Al Buss (Readstown).
We believe the cost of doing nothing is much greater than acting now. Coupling energy savings with efficiency measures, and new renewable energy generation, we will lower electricity costs and bring new jobs into our economies. And most importantly, our energy dollars stay here, either in savings or lower long-term costs of local renewable energy resources.
There are other costs of continuing to do nothing that are more scientific and you won’t see on your bill. They have to do with carbon combustion into our atmosphere. As atmospheric scientists have been warning us for decades, the accumulation of carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion is dramatically changing weather patterns. We know all too well with recent multiple 500 year floods that have destroyed whole farms and homes. We’ve watched hurricanes rock our coastlines, and forest fires torch entire communities. These are costs that we never see on our energy bills, and are borne by all of us, especially the most vulnerable.
Our mission is to implement the vision through energy planning, public engagement, market transformation, encourage and facilitate infrastructure investment and collaboration in Vernon County and the surrounding area, while considering reliability and cost. We will also catalyze and support an energy district movement in Wisconsin and beyond. If we act now, we can maintain a reasonable life quality and leave something for our children to live on too.
Our Vernon County Energy District has two main tasks in the first few years. On the one hand, we will work with utilities and electricity users to reduce and shape our demand for power. At the same time, the energy district will create short courses (on-line) to raise awareness and help us all take control of energy usage. If you find yourself wondering about how much energy you use, and where it comes from, what it costs, join us. Newly elected chair Al Buss and be contacted at 608-606-2619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.