What is an Energy District?

What is an Energy District?

Inspired by the Soil & Water Conservation Districts formed in the 1930s, an Energy District is a non-profit organization that serves a specific county. It fosters the development of locally tailored energy solutions that account for the demographic, geographic, and regulatory factors in that county. An Energy District empowers local energy users to make change, facilitates cooperation between diverse public and private stakeholders, and stimulates the local economy by promoting investment in energy projects and jobs. Through education and community outreach, an Energy District increases adoption of energy efficiency measures and renewable energy production, thereby reducing carbon emissions and other pollution. Finally, an Energy District improves community resiliency through distributed energy generation and storage.


“100% Locally-Owned, Renewable Energy”


Our mission is to retain energy dollars in Vernon County, promote the efficient and wise use of energy, and encourage the transition to locally owned and operated renewable energy sources.

Our Team

The Board of Directors and staff of VCED bring decades of experience in engineering, renewable energy, community organizing, and energy planning to this project.

Alan Buss – President: Al has a decade of experience in municipal (Town of Kickapoo) government. His professional background includes over 20 years of web-based software development for clients ranging from dairy industry manufacturers, local businesses, and municipal governments. For five years he managed training and education for a department of over 700 employees at a large printing company. He is currently working on a load management system to maximize the use of solar energy as it is generated. This system controls his EV charger(amperage, on/off), freezer, refrigerator, and water trough heater. The impact of intelligently controlling these few loads is already proving quite significant.

Samantha Laskwoski – Vice President: Sam owns and operates a small business powered almost entirely by renewable energy. She is a founding member of Local Energy Generation (LEG), which, in partnership with Westby Co-op Credit Union, has distributed over $1 million in low interest loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects since its inception. Sam is a member of the La Farge Community Solar Committee as well as a community group focusing on rural community resiliency in the face of climate change. She has also provided technical and communications support for solar installation projects in the Town of Stark and the Village of La Farge.

Rob Danielson – Secretary: Rob is an energy planner for the Town of Stark in Vernon County, Wisconsin and representative to the Inter-Municipal Energy Planning Committee comprised of 10 Wisconsin municipalities. IMEPC was asked to be one of eleven parties participating in the PSC’s Grid Modernization study in 2019. He is also a member of the La Farge Community Solar Committee. As Secretary of S.O.U.L. of Wisconsin (Save Our Unique Lands) since 2012, Rob has aided a large array of ratepayer and community initiatives working closely with nationally recognized specialists in the development of Non-Transmission Alternatives based on accelerated end user applications of energy efficiency, load management, solar and solar plus storage. As SOUL’s intervention agent in several cases before the PSC, Rob has become familiar with MISO policies, PSC review process, state energy laws, and energy planning on state and regional levels.

Alicia Leinberger – Treasurer: Alicia has two decades of experience in various aspects of renewable energy technology and electricity markets. As founder and owner of a rural solar installation company, she brings the perspective of working with a diversity of private and public entities on energy planning and implementation of onsite production. In addition, she serves on the board of RENEW WI and brings to this project an understanding of state policy, as well as familiarity with the various utility policies and tariffs. In addition, her 20 years of experience operating a renewable installation business affords our groups insight into workforce development and training opportunities.

Toby Grotz – Director: Toby is an electrical engineer with a background in power systems design. He has designed electrical systems for coal, natural gas and nuclear power plants. He has been effectively managing projects in the energy and utility industry and researching alternative energy systems for 40 years. His work experience includes design and support for capital improvements for power plants rated up to 1800MW. Toby has also conducted research on the relationship of resource depletion to energy use both internationally and in the U.S.

Wayde Lawler – Project Coordinator: Wayde has over a decade of experience in sustainable food projects, education, and community organizing. He has also served on the boards of various non-profit organizations. Wayde helped design and build his own home, incorporating energy efficiency techniques and an innovative DC solar PV water heating system.