Clayton County Energy District recaps 2020

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Joleen Jansen, Clayton County Energy District Program Manager, presented a re-cap of the CCED's efforts this past year during a Zoom meeting held on Jan. 27. The local non-profit organization is committed to strengthening our community through inclusively leading, implementing and accelerating the local clean energy transition. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

The Clayton County Energy District (CCED) is a local non-profit organization committed to strengthening our community through inclusively leading, implementing and accelerating the local clean energy transition. Joleen Jansen, CCED Program Manager, presented a re-cap of the group's efforts this past year during a Zoom meeting held on Jan. 27. 

"By putting boots on the ground in Clayton County, we benefit the local economy through energy cost reduction, and we slow climate change by promoting wise energy use. We call it our 'Green Meets Green' plan to strengthen our communities. We are especially committed to making sure everyone is benefitting from the county's clean energy transition," said Jansen.

CCED board members

Clayton County Energy District board members value the retention and reinvestment of energy dollars in our local communities. They support clean, renewable, locally-owned energy for all and sustainable and wise energy use for our planet's long-term health. 

The CCED board is comprised of Jim Osterhaus, Chair; Randy Lenth, Vice Chair; Elaine Funke, treasurer; Dr. Ken Zichal, secretary; Ron Kaiser; Tom Klingman; Kathy Koether and Ashley Althoff, Communications Specialist. 

LED distribution = local economic 

benefits and carbon emissions reduction

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CCED found creative, safe ways to carry out their LED transition initiative. "Through our 'Free LED Delivery' program, we were able to surpass our goal of distributing 5000 LED light bulbs to Clayton County residents and remain compliant with social distancing measures," Jansen noted.  

This year 3,000 locally-purchased LED bulbs were delivered right to the front porches of 375 households, and energy-hogging incandescent bulbs were collected for recycling. In December, the organization also gave away 1000 bulbs to 250 low-income families. 

Educating students 

Using an Allamakee Clayton Rural Electric Co-op economic grant, the CCED designed and implemented an energy efficiency education and LED swap program. The virtual program contained lessons for Clayton County fifth grade students on climate change, energy efficiency, and LED technology. The program benefitted 95 students at three Clayton County elementary schools. After the school science teachers gave the lessons, each student brought in four incandescent light bulbs, and they received four replacement LED bulbs. 

These 2020 efforts cap a residential LED conversion program in which the organization distributed well over  8,000 LED light bulbs. This 8000 LED household light bulb transition over the 13.6 year life expectancy of each LED bulb will collectively save county residents $666,700 in energy costs and reduce Clayton County's carbon footprint by 6720 metric tons. "That is real, local wealth retention and climate stewardship happening right here in Clayton County," commented Jansen. 

"Cool Congregations"

CCED also introduced nationally organized Interfaith Power and Light to its "Cool Congregations" carbon calculators to several Clayton County churches. "We reached out to several congregations in Clayton County and are continuing to work with them to reduce their energy usage. The group was proud to report St. Joseph's in Elkader received "Cool Congregation" certification.  The church demonstrated a 10 percent carbon footprint reduction by installing a programmable thermostat and completing a church LED lighting transition," she said. 

Growing locally owned solar

Since the 2015 inception of the CCED, Clayton County solar installations have expanded 400% percent. "We think our education and energy planning role has made a difference." Jansen added, "This past year the CCED took the time to quantify and map the amount of existing solar. According to their calculation the county has 1.3 megawatts (MW) of privately owned solar, increasing the number of pins on their website's clean energy map to 75 points. "

Electric Vehicle Charging

The CCED proudly claims they are leading Clayton County out of the electric vehicle (EV) charging dessert. Thanks to winning an Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation (UMGC) grant proposal, and collaborations with the cities of Elkader, Guttenberg, Strawberry Point, Marquette, and McGregor, the CCED will administer the installation of a level two dual-port pedestal EV charging station in each of these local tourist destinations. 

Clean Energy Tour

In October the CCED hosted a virtual Clean Energy Tour for Community Leaders. Ashley Althoff, CCED Communications Specialist, organized the event. Nineteen individuals attended the virtual tour with representative from Elkader, Marquette, Guttenberg, and Strawberry Point, along with two Clayton County pastors, the Clayton County Development Group Executive Director, Darla Kelchen and five state legislative candidates including Matt Tapscott, Mike Klimesh, Anne Osmundson, Mike Bergan and Kayla Koether.

State Representative Anne Osmundson was impressed with the tour. Osmundson stated, "It (the tour) gave me a broader understanding of the subject so I’m able to communicate with constituents."

The Clean Energy Tour consisted of three stops, St. Joseph Church in Elkader, highlighting their energy efficiency story, Marquette's solar-powered public infrastructure; and an explanation of the CCED's - EV Charging station project. 

CCED Green meets Green 

Annual Appeal 

The CCED is raising operating funds and would like to reach their goal of $10,000. They are committed to strengthening communities by leading, implementing and accelerating the inclusive, local, and clean energy transition. A portion of your donation is tax deductible under 501(c)3 IRS rules. Giving opportunities can be found on the energy districts web page at claytoncounty.energydistrict.org, or if you prefer to donate by mail send a check to:

Clayton County Energy District

P.O. Box 211 

Edgewood, IA 52042

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