DelCo Energy District hosts first Clean Energy Breakfast

The newly formed Delaware County Energy District (DelCoED) hosted its first community engagement event at Wulfekuhle Electric in Delhi last Saturday, June 22. The group, which formed with the desire to build community within Delaware County,  by addressing equitable access to clean and local energy, organized the meeting to begin educating the community on the local support and resources available to them, should they choose to pursue an alternative energy solution. 

Attendees were treated to cinnamon rolls and other breakfast luxuries when the doors opened at 9 a.m. and went on to be invited to participate in the ‘First Step Home Efficiency Program,’ which provides thorough home energy efficiency assessments. The First Step Home Efficiency Program is a volunteer program conducted by locally stationed Green Iowa Americorp teams. The team provides energy analysis, checks the safety of fossil fuel burning appliances and installs high-efficiency LED lighting and low flow faucet aerators, adds insulation to hot water pipes and duct sealing to participating homes. The program is available county residents and is especially available  to low-income residents, seniors, people living with a disability, and veterans. 

About 35 people showed up to the event, which went from 9 to 11 a.m and was attended by  DelCoED board members, Larry Gritton, Jade Hargrafen, Larry Toester and Morgan Schmidt and the acting program manager, Joleen Jansen.

“There are several people who came because they had heard the advertising on the radio or somewhere,” Hargrafen said. “It was a turnout we were happy with overall.”

“That’s what we hope to do, to draw people from all over. It was a community engagement event, and the topic was solar and battery storage,” Jansen said. “The DelCoED is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to building community. We’re doing that by hyperfocusing on building fair access, equitable access in our local community. We talk about efficiency, clean energy generation, like local rooftop solar. We also want to get boots on the ground, to sign up households, and take our first step home efficiency program.”

The DelCoED describes itself as, “a grassroots effort to facilitate energy planning and coaching for families, businesses and organizations; advocate for clean energy legislation; and promote clean energy programs, such as LED bulb exchanges, energy assessments, planning and education.”

At the event, demonstrative solar panels and a Sonnen battery backup cabinet helped to educate attendees. In the end, roughly seven households signed up to participate in the program. Jansen’s final pitch of the day was on message.

“The first step to buying solar is to reduce (through efficiency measures) what you need,” Jansen said. “If you are at all interested in solar power, this is the year to do it. The prices are coming down for a number of reasons. The tax credits are in full tilt and the hard and soft cost of solar is just falling and falling.” 

The DelCoED officially organized in 2019, becoming eligible for a $3,000 matching grant through the Community Foundation. The Foundation for the Future of Delaware County has stepped up to provide a portion of the required match. The group pledges lower energy costs which leads to local wealth retention and to help reduce carbon emissions in the county. This idea evokes a ‘green meets green’ philosophy…local energy prosperity meeting climate stewardship. 

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