Energy Breakfast Topic Archive

March 2023: Non taxable entities are now able to take advantage of the 30% federal renewable energy tax credit through a new “direct pay” refundable tax credit!

February 2023: Kerri Johannsen, Iowa Environmental Council joined WED’s Andy Johnson for a panel discussion of the big Iowa energy policy issues of 2023.

January 2023:

June 2022: Chris Johnson, President of Vesterheim, describes the exciting energy efficiency  plans for the new building at the Vesterheim campus.

March 2022: Hear from Joel Zook about how you can heat your home with Solar!  Laura Peterson, a Decorah homeowner, speaks about her experience installing a solar-powered heat pump system for heating and cooling her home.

February 2022: Renewable Hydrogen offers a promising opportunity for Iowa. Ideal Energy, an Iowa-based company, is piloting projects that aim to make Renewable Hydrogen a commercial-scale reality.

January 2022: Watch for a discussion of the big energy policy issues of 2022. Our discussion will cover state and national issues. Hear the latest on the Iowa Solar Tax Credit action, the Build Back Better bill, the infrastructure package, and more!

November 2021: Hear from MJ Smith, Director of Affiliate Foundations, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. MJ Smith gives some history on the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and share their strategic interests in Energy Districts.

October 2021:Watch this video to hear from Karen Henry, LIHEAP & Outreach Director, CCAP. In this talk, she describes how the Low-income Heating and Energy Assistance Program works and who is eligible. There have been changes to the program so now more people are eligible! Karen Henry also discusses a few other assistance programs. Tune in and share with anyone who might benefit! These programs are sadly underutilized. (Apologies that the beginning is missing. We had some technical difficulties)

September 2021: In-person conversation with Allamakee-Clayton Rural Energy Cooperative postponed

August 2021: Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Rural Power Coalition’s platform has been endorsed by over 100 organizations from around the country and one of the Coalition’s primary policy goals was included in the Biden Administration’s Rural Fact Sheet for the American Jobs Plan. Watch this recording to learn more about the campaign and the economic, environmental, and political necessity of a major investment in the rural electric system from Erik Hatlestad, Coalition Chair.

July 2021:Energy Planner, Joel Zook, answers all your questions about home electrification!

June 2021: Join project developers, Neil Jones and Steve Frenkel from Direct Connect Development Company, to hear about the proposed 350 mile underground high voltage direct current underground transmission line.

See a June CNN special on the project here.

May 2021: Energy Planner, Joel Zook, tells us what we need to know to go solar in 2021!

April 2021: Mechanical Engineer and Clean Grid Alliance Consultant, Natalie McIntyre, gives an overview of the US Electrical Grid and takes lots of audience questions!

March 2021: Michelle Barnes from Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission, updates us on the regional EV planning study underway in North East Iowa.

February 2021: Our annual local, state, and federal policy panel featuring Steve Falck, Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Kerri Johannsen, Iowa Environmental Council.

January 2021: RREAL Solar gives an overview of solar history and then discusses how RREAL gets the benefits of solar to low income families.

December 2020: Former WED GIA member, Tristan Eberling, catches us up on where he’s been since working with WED and introduces us to Ecolibrium3, a nonprofit in Duluth with similar work to WED.

November 2020: Hear stories from WED’s first 10 years!

October 2020: Cody Smith from Center for Rural Affairs discusses how clean energy and conservation go together.

September 2020: Four EV drivers give virtual tours of their vehicles and then answer questions from the audience.

August 2020:  Joel Zook describes how his family shrunk their home’s utility bill to under $900 a year.

July 2020: Kerri Johannsen of the Iowa Environmental Council and Steve Falck of the Environmental Law and Policy Center join WED’s Andy Johnson for an online panel discussion of hot-button policy issues.

June 2020: Dr. Dennis Todey from the USDA Midwest Climate Hub discussed Climate Change’s Impact on Agriculture in Iowa.  Watch the presentation below.

May 2020: Luther’s Center for Sustainable Communities Director, Jim Martin-Schramm, described the new Solar to Storage system.  Watch the presentation below.


April 2020: Leslie Sand from the Northeast Iowa Chapter of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby described a Carbon Pricing Program option supported by CCL.

March 2020: Cancelled due to COVID-19

February 2020: We covered net metering, the Alliant Rate Case, EV policy, and more in our annual policy update breakfast.

January 2020:  Joe Grimstad, Vice Chairman, Decorah Bank and Trust shared the bank’s journey to reach their net-zero carbon goal in 2019.  Joel Zook, the Energy District’s Energy Planner, then spoke about how individuals can take steps to go carbon neutral.

December 2019: There’s a new draft of the Decorah Sustainability plan! Sustainability Committee members Emily Neal and Ross Hadley shared an overview of it with attendees, answered questions, and encouraged them to submit feedback via the city website.

November 2019: The Oneota Community Food Cooperative’s General Manager David Lester shared the story of the building’s Spring 2019 remodel and energy efficiency project. The project focused on lighting and refrigeration upgrades, resulting in a 26% decrease in energy use AND virtually eliminating costly repairs. The presentation ended with a behind-the-scenes store tour of the upgrades!

October 2019: This month was “Energy LUNCH” at NICC. Instructor Jeff Foster gave a presentation explaining his Do-it-yourself solar project in his own backyard. See his powerpoint presentation for tips and resources for your own DIY solar project.

September 2019: Norman Brus from the USDA’s Rural Development office visited us to share information about the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and value-added producer grant.

August 2019: Porter House Museum board member Paul Cutting presented in the porterhouse parlor about the board’s decision to invest in a mini-split climate control system and solar. The Porter House Museum is a small, volunteer-run non-profit. View notes pages: PH Presentation.

July 2019:  The Green Iowa AmeriCorps shared impact numbers and stories from the 2018-19 service term.

June 2019: Winneshiek Energy District staff hosted a round table conversation at Java Johns Coffeehouse. Attendees brought their clean energy questions and there was much conversation about how and when to go solar.

May 2019:  Kerri Johannsen, Energy Program Director with the Iowa Environmental Council, provided a review of activity from this spring’s legislative session including the recently defeated HF 699 “sunshine tax” bill, and legislative attempts at affecting electric vehicles and energy efficiency. She will discuss future legislative opportunities and what can citizens can do now.

April 2019: Energy Brunch was hosted at Luther College’s Peace Dining Room. Jim Martin-Schramm shared the story of Luther’s path to carbon neutrality.

March 2019: Energy District staff presented information on House File 699, an attack on net metering, and offered avenues for advocacy including postcard and letter writing.

February 2019: Two Future City teams from the Decorah Middle School presented their projects, a redesign of the future cities Cienfuegos, Cuba, and Terremoto, Chile.

January 2019: Eric Holthaus, the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Cedar Rapids, shared initiatives including increasing pollinator-friendly spaces, becoming a STAR certified city, and starting sustainability initiatives at a city level.

December 2018: Steve Falck from the Environmental Law and Policy Center informed us about the current state of clean energy policy at the state level.

November 2018: Brian Krambeer, President and CEO of MiEnergy REC, shared about the company’s pilot battery storage program.

October 2018: Nine northeast Iowa cities and counties are partnering with the Energy Districts of northeast Iowa to evaluate the potential to achieve the SolSmart designation. SolSmart is a national program that certifies local governments as solar friendly, or “open for solar business”.

September 2018: Energy district staff explore why economy-wide electrification is an essential step to greening the grid. Download powerpoint presentation: Electrification Slides – Sept. 2018

August 2018: Sustainable Schools AmeriCorps program manager Carmen Finken shared the successes of the newest Green Iowa AmeriCorps program’s pilot year.

July 2018: The Energy District proudly unveils Agreport, a 2 year project that has culminated in a web agriculture energy tool. Featured speakers included web developer Brad Crawford and Todd Duncan of NRCS. Read about it here.

June 2018: View part of Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom, a documentary produced by the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

May 2018: Craig Mosher, resident and co-founder of Prairie Hills Cohousing in Iowa City, shares the startup process and green building considerations for the new sustainable living development.  See presentation slides: Iowa City Cohousing.

April 2018: The effort to form a municipal electric utility, Decorah Power, answers questions about the impact of a municipal electric utility in Decorah, the decision-making process, how to vote, and how it could affect our community.

March 2018: The professionals at KAR Auto Group, the region’s first certified Volt, and Bolt dealer,   shared their electric vehicle offerings, how EVs differ from combustion engines, and where they see electric vehicles going (so to speak).

February 2018: David Wadsworth of Wadsworth Construction talked on the topic of windows, window restoration, and how this important facet of your home intersects with the home’s overall energy efficiency. To see a PDF of the slideshow, click here.

January 2018: Decorah Power and New Gen Consulting presented the feasibility study results for Decorah Power’s municipal electric utility potential. View a video of it on our facebook page. Click here to see the full feasibility study report.

December 2017: Energy District staff briefly highlighted key district initiatives from 2017, including a partnership with Decorah Power, Farm Energy Planning, Green Iowa Americorps, and the expansion of Energy Districts in NEIA, followed by an update of energy policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

October/November 2017:  Energy Breakfasts were skipped to encourage attendance at Decorah Power Learning Series events.

September 2017: David Osterberg, founder of the Iowa Policy Project and Iowa state representative, gave insight in into the current Alliant rate increase. Osterberg offered insight into rate increases in the broader context of investor-owned versus consumer-owned utilities. See Decorah Power’s video of a conversation had with Osterberg about this topic.

August 2017: Luther College Professor Jim Martin-Schramm spoke about the policy and practice of clean energy transition and differing approaches to nuclear and hydraulic fracturing in Germany and the UK. Jim and Karen Martin-Schramm led Luther’s Nottingham program in 2016-17.

July 2017: Waverly Utility’s CEO/General Manager Darrel Wenzel spoke about the successes and challenges of a municipal utility in a town of 10,000 people.

June 2017: Clayton County Energy District President Harry Blobaum and Coordinator Joleen Jansen shared how they’ve gone about organizing to keep energy, dollars, and jobs local during their first year of existence. Video excerpt on YouTube.

May 2017:  General manager Josh Byrnes of Osage Municipal Utilities, a small but mighty municipal electric utility that provides gas, electric, and telecom to the community of Osage, Iowa addressed the benefits and challenges of running a small municipal utility. View on Youtube: Part1, Part 2, Part 3.

April 2017: Winneshiek County Conservation’s Lilly Jensen and Luther College professor Dawn Reding shared information regarding varying effects of energy production on wildlife. Reding shared the single-turbine bat research conducted at Luther College.

March 2017: Allamakee-Clayton REC Executive Vice President/General Manager Paul Foxwell talked about electric rate-making principles and upcoming projects. 

February 2017: Manager of the New Hampton’s Municipal Electric Utility Brian Quirk will talkws about the challenges and opportunities of a municipal electric utility, with a focus on the local economic impacts of keeping energy dollars local.

January 2017: Andy Johnson and Larry Grimstad spoke on critical issues for solar owners: state tax credits, net metering, and the Winneshiek Shared Solar project. 

December 2016: Sam Pollan shared his experience attending this year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Marrakech, Morocco.

October 2016: Gary Mineart shares about satelite technology’s role in climate science.

September 2016: Our annual policy breakfast, featuring a candidate forum on energy policy with State Senator Michael Breitbach, State Senate Candidate Jan Heikes, and State Representative Candidate Micheal Bergan.

August 2016: Revisiting Decorah’s first community-wide sustainability plan from 2010, including eergy accomplishments … and opportunities!

July 2016: Net metering policy update and discussion, and discussion on solar PPA opportunities for the City of Decorah given Cresco’s recent solar PPA completion

June 2016: Hawkeye Rural Electric Cooperative CEO Brian Krambeer updated the group on their merger with TriCounty REC, discussed distributed generation and related issues, and took questions.

May 2016: We discussed the current proposals Alliant Energy and MidAmerican Energy have presented to the Iowa Utilities Board to replace net metering, what they mean for current and future solar owners, and what we can do about it.

April 2016: Local panel discussion on Electric Vehicle Public Charging Infrastructure plans, and other aspects of the electric vehicle opportunities.

March 2016: Iowa Environmental Council’s Nathaniel Baer, Luther College’s Jim Martin-Schramm, and the Energy District’s Andy Johnson will discussed current Iowa energy and solar policy challenges and opportunities.

February 2016: Kamyar Enshayan, Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at UNI, presented the “Simple Solar” community solar garden under development by Cedar Falls Utilities. (youtube part 1, and part 2)

January 2016: City of Bloomfield Energy Efficiency Director Chris Ball and colleagues presented Bloomfields recent path towards an energy independence goal, and steps under consideration to get there. (youtube part 1, and part 2)

December 2015: Sam Pollan from Luther College’s Center for Sustainable Communities brought the Paris Climate Change talks home to Decorah, after attending the international conference that reached a landmark global agreement on 12-12-15

November 2015: Iowa State Senator Joe Bolkcom (Iowa City) previewed energy efficiency and renewable energy issues and opportunities for the coming legislative session

October 2015: Johnson County Supervisor Mike Carberry explained Johnson County’s road to solar, and the challenges and opportunities for local governments using third party power purchase agreements

September 2015: State Senator Michael Breitbach joined us to discuss energy efficiency, renewable energy, and the coming legislative session.

August 2015: Luther College President Paula Carlson and Professor Jim Martin-Schramm discussed the College’s energy efficiency and renewable energy accopmplishments and plans, community leadership, and state policy

July 2015: Stephanie Enloe, Energy and Climate Organizer with Center for Rural Affairs based in Dyersville, discussed transmission issues and rural electric cooperative opportunities

June 2015: David Ruffcorn, Energy Code Specialist withe State Fire Marshall’s Office, discussed Iowa energy code for buildings

May 2015: Jason Marcell and Marnie Stein, Iowa DNR Air Quality Bureau staff in charge of developing Iowa’s Clean Power Plan

April 2015: Professor Laura Peterson of Luther College, presenting her research on climate change

March 2015: Nathaniel Baer of the Iowa Environmental Council, updating us on Iowa Legislative action (and inaction) on renewable energy


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