Where green meets green: Allamakee Energy District hosts clean energy tour

The best way to save money on energy is not to spend it.

That’s why the newly formed Allamakee Energy District (AED) wants to help educate the public on some of the simple things the public can do to conserve energy.

October 22, the AED hosted a half-day bus tour of some of the sustainable energy innovations happening in the area. Around 20 people boarded the bus to tour a variety of locations throughout Allamakee County.

Attendees included representatives from the Allamakee Energy District, the Clayton County Energy District, the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors, Allamakee County Economic Development, Waukon Economic Development Corporation, Waukon City Council, mayors of Waukon and Postville, State Representative Anne Osmundson, Green Iowa AmeriCorps representatives from the Winneshiek Energy District and more.

Tour stops included a 45.32kW dc agriculture solar project installed by Blake Electric of Waukon at Gibbs Dairy in rural Waterville, a Northeast Iowa Community Action Corporation weatherization project at 612 Second Avenue SW in Waukon, a 204 kW project  installed by CBSolar of Des Moines at G&S Machine on the east edge of Waukon and a stop at St. Patrick School in Waukon, where LED lighting was recently installed throughout the school.

In addition to information presented at each of the tour stops, Brie Burke, a Green Iowa AmeriCorps team member who works with the Winneshiek Energy District, encouraged the public to contact her team about scheduling a first-step home energy assessment. To date, the home energy assessment program has helped over 1,000 homes in northeast Iowa become more energy-efficient, saving the average homeowner over $120 on utility bills annually.

The Green Iowa Americorps First Step Home Efficiency Program serves households in Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Fayette, Clayton and Chickasaw counties. For more information, call 563-387-4602, ext. 2 or visit energydistrict.org/services/home-efficiency-program/.

Dean Sorensen, AED Board member, thanked Clayton County Energy District Program Manager Joleen Jansen and Allamakee County Economic Development Executive Director Val Reinke for helping to organize the tour. “I was fairly happy with the number of people who were able to show up from various communities,” said Sorensen.

When asked about the AED’s mission, Sorenson said, “Our primary focus, at least initially, is to create awareness in the community about energy conservation.”

Sorensen added there are many “easy things that can be done to cut down on energy usage which are of financial benefit to homeowners and business owners.”

Sorensen said while energy conservation definitely helps negate impacts to the environment, conserving it also helps save money.

Jansen, who has led the Clayton County Energy District since February of 2017, said she likes to educate people on the fact that energy saves both money and the earth. “It’s really where green meets green. These options are reducing energy costs and are better for the planet… By spending less money on energy, people have a little more cash in their pocketbooks to spend in the local economy,” said Jansen.

Sorensen explained as the AED develops, “We will be able to provide assistance in more than just an informational way. We hope we’ll be able to raise some funding to help homeowners with things like bulb placement.”

“With ongoing increases in energy rates, it will become increasingly important to find things we can do – some of them very simple – to cut down on energy consumption,” said Sorenson.

Sorensen added the AED group plans to schedule some public forums in the near future to continue the conversation about what can be done to save energy.

The Allamakee Energy District is a locally led organization “committed to strengthening our communities by creating fair access to local and clean energy… Local, clean energy generation and efficiency measures are stopping the drain of energy costs from the local economy and creating wealth retention, all the while decreasing carbon emissions. This is creating a win-win combination of economic prosperity and environmental stewardship for Allamakee County.”

By Lisse Blake, Waukon Standard