Vernon County Energy District Offers Energy Rating Program | News

The Vernon County Energy District (VCED) sponsors an energy assessment program to support improved energy efficiency, decarbonization, and electrification in Vernon County.

Inspired by Soil and Water Conservation Districts formed in the 1930s, VCED is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization committed to conserving energy dollars in Vernon County, promoting the electrification and the wise use of energy, and to encourage the transition to locally owned, locally produced renewable energy sources. VCED was formed in April 2020 on Earth Day.

Kaila Wilson, VCED Program Director, said that in 2020, VCED received funding through the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Energy Innovation Grant Program to conduct energy planning and assessments. county-wide energy services for residents, businesses, municipalities, schools and organizations.

Free energy assessments are available to anyone in Vernon County, regardless of income. Assessments provide detailed information on energy consumption and costs, including:

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  • Identification of sources of energy waste (using the blower door and infrared imagery);
  • describe the participant’s energy goals;
  • Development of a comprehensive plan to improve energy efficiency and electrification;
  • Explore options for using renewable energy;
  • Provide a list of discounts, incentives, and other cost-saving opportunities.

Wilson said a total of 115 people received paper energy assessments and met with a member of VCED’s team of energy assessment specialists. So far, she said, about 23 home energy assessments using a blower door test and infrared imaging have been completed. Wilson said the goal is to complete 300 energy assessments because the grant provides funding to do the same.

VCED has two paid staff – Wilson and Dave Ware, the Senior Energy Assessment Specialist who performs the blower door testing. Mike Brudos is also an energy evaluation specialist.

The team of energy assessors is made up of six volunteers whom Wilson affectionately calls “energy geeks” – a group of retired engineers and people who have worked in utilities and energy – who will write a report based on the pre-assessment questionnaire. The team includes Alan Buss, Toby Grotz, Dave Moser, Doug Schreder, Paul Bloom and Robert Ribbens.

Public education volunteers are also involved in this work. These volunteers include Andy Marshall, Florence Sandok, MaryEllyn Mattison-Doerr, Karen Mattison and Jason Welsh.

VCED also includes a four-member Board of Directors – Buss, Chairman; Samantha Laskowski, Vice President; Alicia Leinberger, Treasurer; and Grotz, secretary.

To register for a free energy assessment, complete the online energy pre-assessment questionnaire at www.vced.energy/assessment.

The Energy Pre-Assessment Questionnaire is designed to help VCED understand how residents and businesses manage their energy use and better understand the type of technologies in use throughout the county. Everyone who completes the energy screening questionnaire will receive a free energy monitoring smart plug, valued at $9.99.

Wilson said an energy-monitoring smart plug is plugged into a regular wall outlet and a person can then plug in their refrigerator, for example, to track how much energy it’s using via an app on his smartphone. “You can use it with different devices, even your computer.”

Wilson said grant funding for energy assessments ends in July. She said they are limited on when a blower door test can be performed, as it is best to perform the test during cold times or warm times of the year. She said the VCED will stop on-site assessments around May; other assessments will continue until July and ideally longer depending on funding.

She added that VCED will work with Vernon County residents to set up an Emporia Energy Monitor at no cost (retail value is $109.99). She said it monitors a person’s entire electrical system and energy consumption can be tracked through a smartphone app.

Additionally, VCED is conducting a survey to gauge public perceptions of local electric utilities and the energy future in Vernon County. Everyone who completes the survey will be eligible to win one of five $100 gift certificates to a local business. To take the survey, visit www.vced.energy/utilitysurvey.

Call 608-638-6038 for help completing the questionnaire or for more information.

Angela Cina can be reached at [email protected]

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