Community conversations about clean energy initiatives as a means to create local jobs and reduce climate impacts in Vernon County started in February and are continuing virtually since the Stay at Home Order. Spearheaded by Ethos Green Power in Viroqua, with broad participation of Vernon Electric Coop, residents, businesses, local and county government officials and organizations, the group is looking at their area as an Energy District (like a soil conservation district).
An Energy District is geographically and socioeconomically inclusive, independent, and nonpartisan that leads, implements, and accelerates a locally-owned, inclusive, clean energy transition. It creates change through strategies of energy planning, market transformation, public engagement, advocacy, and readiness. Energy Districts have formed in Iowa recently; and, Alicia Leinberger of Ethos is working to model the Vernon County effort using that participatory framework.
The Vernon County group generated ideas about reducing greenhouse gas emissions including: smart device feedback of energy use and waste, low-cost energy efficiency upgrades to homes, on-bill financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, and local renewable energy generation. LaCrosseTribune