Delaware County launches energy district

Impassioned Delaware County residents have convened in recent months to create the Delaware County Energy District (DelCoED), 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, home assessments and education. 

“I think the need for energy alternatives in Delaware County is what sparked the formation of the DelCoED,” said Megan Thul, vice chair of the new group. “There are a lot of great communities in Delaware County that can benefit from the type of services a clean energy district can provide.

“At our first meeting, we went around the table and stated our vision for clean energy — that clean energy should be local, accessible, fair and available to everyone; healthy for the environment and the community; and better defined so that people understand what it is and its benefits,” said Thul.

To begin educating Delaware County communities about clean energy alternatives and the local support that is available to them, the DelCoED hosted a free, informative breakfast at in Delhi on June 22. Attendees learned about solar energy through conversations with local solar providers and were able to meet members of the DelCoED board. 

Attendees were also invited to sign up for the First Step Home Efficiency Program, which helps make homes more energy efficient through an assessment and installation of high-efficiency light bulbs and low-flow faucet aerators, insulation of hot water pipes and duct sealing. The program offers home inspections and evaluations to interested community members and assistance is available for low-income residents, seniors and people living with a disability, as well as veterans.

Exploratory conversations among enthusiasts of clean, local energy began in late 2018, when the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque received a grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation to unite communities in grassroots efforts to provide clean local energy and spark localized energy opportunities. The Delaware County Energy District officially organized in early 2019 and thus became eligible for a $3,000 matching grant through the Community Foundation to launch these efforts. The Foundation for the Future of Delaware County, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, has stepped up to provide a portion of the required match. 

“We view the mission of energy districts as a strong companion strategy to our mission of strengthening communities through wealth retention from growing endowments,” said M.J. Smith, director of affiliate foundations at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. 

“‘Green meets green,’ the energy district tagline, means that individuals, families, businesses and organizations can save money while also stewarding our natural resources,” Smith added. “Energy districts serve income-eligible seniors, veterans and disabled individuals first with energy assessment planning and coaching.” 

“Communities are embracing the beauty of our ‘green meets green’ philosophy,” said Joleen Jansen, who coaches energy district startups on behalf of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “Everyone loves the win-win scenario of emitting less carbon, which is good for the planet, and saving money on a utility bill, which certainly benefits the local economy.” 

For more information on DelCoED activities in communities throughout Delaware County, visit or contact Jansen at 563.880.7915 or