Eau Claire Energy Cooperative Provides Tons of Solar Energy, Aided by Grass-Chewing Lambs

Tori Johnson

You flip on a light switch, and expect the light to turn on. It is that simple. However, do you ever wonder where that power is coming from, or how the energy crucial to your daily life is produced? Some people in the Valley don’t have to wonder or look further than their own neighborhood!

“We are always looking to help consumer members build a better life, and to save money on their electric bills.” – Mary Kay Brevig, Eau Claire Energy Cooperative

The Eau Claire Energy Co-op provides energy to 11,000 customers in Eau Claire County, and do so with renewable resources. The co-op is home to a five-acre plot of land with precisely 2,816 mounted solar panels, free from shade and ready to absorb every ray during our limited sun-shine seasons. These panels replace 1,767 barrels of oil, and energize 113 homes per year. ECEC’S panels, however, are not enough to supply consistent energy to all of its customers, 24/7. Therefore, the co-op purchases all other needed product through the Dairyland Power Co-op located in La Crosse. Dairyland provides power from a diverse portfolio of sources including solar, wind, hydro, and coal.

The ECEC has been around since 1938 and serves a diverse part of the rural/urban community including homes, businesses, and farms all by using green energy. The solar panels located in the five-acre plot are part of a community project called MemberSolar. This program allows members to have a certain amount of their energy generated through local panels. The program has two main options: make a one-time payment or pay a monthly fee, essentially buying upfront or paying as you go for however much energy production you may require.

ECEC’s website is designed to make the process of managing your account or learning more about what is offered in the program simple. You can easily track how much energy is being created through your panels, giving you an appreciation for the process.

For now, MemberSolar is sold out and all panels are producing energy for existing participants. Anyone looking for extra information about MemberSolar, or anything relative to the cooperative can speak with a Member Service Representative, Monday through Friday 7:30am to 4pm.

“We are always looking to help consumer members build a better life, and to save money on their electric bills,” said Mary Kay Brevig, communications manager at the co-op. A recommended tip for saving money on your energy bills is to have a home performance evaluation completed on your property. Even if you do not use renewable energy, this will help to limit the total amount of wasted resources. Every little thing counts!

The cooperative offers other community-based programs and activities open to everyone, not just those within its service territory. The Youth Ambassador Program is free for individuals in ninth-12th grade looking to have an educational experience. As a Youth Ambassador students tour local facilities, learn about renewable energy, and participate in community service events. Tours of the facility are offered to anyone who is interested in checking it out. You may get a chance to see the flock of sheep that keep the grass cut around the solar panels, courtesy of Lambalot Acres.

To set up a tour call Eau Claire Energy Cooperative at 715-832-1603. More information about the Eau Claire Energy Cooperative and the Member Solar program is available at www.ecec.com.