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.
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 – Board 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 – Board 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.
Alicia Leinberger – Board 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 – Board Secretary: 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.
Kaila Wilson – Program Director: Kaila is a born organic dairy farmer, a trained city and regional planner, and a passionate climate justice advocate. She has over a decade of experience organizing and supporting communities around issues of food and nutrition security, regenerative agriculture, climate resiliency, and workforce development. She has held roles in community-based organizations, institutions of higher education, and the federal government working on policy analysis, policy development, campaigning, and program management. Kaila lived off the grid for two years where she gained a greater understanding of the true cost of her consumption and the need to transition away from fossil fuels.