Decorah Power and Municipal Electric Utility Update

Joel Zook, Energy Planner

The final, agonizingly close vote is in. Of the 2767 votes cast, there were 1382 yes votes and 1385 no votes. The three-vote margin is just one-tenth of one percent (0.1%) of the votes cast. It was an engaged electorate with voter participation over 50 percent. Decorah voters decided not to authorize the city to further explore the possibility of forming a municipal electric utility.

As a Decorah Power board member, I can say that we are gratified by the larger turnout in voters and for all of those involved in the discussion about this decision. Decorah Power would like to thank all their supporters, those that came to listen and learn at the many events held by Decorah Power, the city, and Alliant. The biggest thanks go out to the volunteers who put in many hours to help spread the word about this decision.

So, what’s next for Decorah’s energy future?

Here at the Winneshiek Energy District remain committed to a vision of attaining 100% local renewable energy in Winneshiek County by 2050. Although locally-owned utility would have been a huge boost in the right direction, there are many ways to work towards that goal.   

Undoubtedly there will be opportunities to work with our existing incumbent utility providers as well as with home and business owners and local contractors to continue to reduce our energy impact and less the amount of energy imports into Winneshiek County through local energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  We’ll work with our fellow energy districts to foster a culture of local clean energy ownership and energy efficiency by engaging local people in local projects that help reach our shared goal while keeping energy dollars local. We’ll continue to be an advocate for legislation that promotes fair and clean energy production and ownership. We’ll continue to communicate with our community, listen to your needs, questions, and concerns, and proudly serve as a resource for our county and region.

There’s much work left to do and we take heart in the incredible support for the Decorah municipal utility effort.

I’m thinking a bit about what else I can do in my own house. Check out my thoughts on why I’m giving solar another hard look – and why you should too.


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