Reprinted and edited in cooperation with the Fayette County Newspapers
By Megan Molseed – Fayette County Newspapers & Joleen Jansen
Last week, community members and leaders from neighboring communities toured West Union, and part of the NFV school district in an effort to set an example for surrounding northeast Iowa communities as well as encourage other communities to consider implementing renewable energy investments, such as the ones utilized by the city and the school district.
The Winneshiek Energy District a member of the Clean Energy Districts of Iowa organized the Thursday 10/8/20, morning tour. In the last year, the city of West Union as well as the North Fayette Valley school district have installed over a dozen solar arrays in an effort to become more energy efficient. All of the NFV school buildings, as well as the bus barn, are solar powered.
“We are already seeing benefits of these arrays in all of the buildings,” said NFV superintendent Joe Griffith. “Each of the buildings have the solar component,” he continued. “Even this early in the school year, we are seeing benefits cost-wise.”
“West Union city and NFV school leadership have really taken the bull by the horns on solar, and their communities and constituents should be proud of that leadership,” said Andy Johnson, Director of the Winneshiek Energy District and Clean Energy Districts of Iowa. “Th ese solar arrays are saving taxpayers money from day one and will do for decades, and they’re also a significant investment in climate stewardship.” During the tour, which included three state legislative candidates, Kayla Koether, Mike Klimesh and Matt Tapscott as well as a staffer from Senator Joni Ernst’s office, met with a representative from Perry Novak Electric, as well as many community members who are benefiting from the renewable technology.
The tour ended at the fairgrounds for further discussion with Joleen Jansen, Joel Zook and Winneshiek Energy Director, Andy Johnson regarding financing options for solar powering public infrastructure.
The major solar investments are just one area where the community has been a leader in sustainability and clean energy,” said Jansen. “The downtown district geothermal system is another.”
“There is a tremendous amount of solar in Decorah and Winneshiek County, but our city and schools are not yet in the game,” said Johnson. “West Union and NFV are models we hope to follow in the near future.”