RIVER FALLS – The City Council intends that River Falls will be Wisconsin's first municipality to power city public buildings with 100% renewable energy. The council voted Oct. 22 to make that happen by Jan. 1, 2020.
“Going 100% renewable is a big deal for the community, both locally and globally,” City Administrator Scot Simpson said. “As a green energy leader, we have been working our way toward this goal for the past 12 years with significant work completed in community education, conservation, and energy efficiency.”
Employee education and engagement, improved building automation, LED light conversion, HVAC upgrades, and more have reduced the electric consumption in city buildings by 11.4%, Simpson said in a news release.
“We are now at the point where our electric consumption isn’t likely to appreciably improve through these efforts alone. Renewable energy is the next step, not only for city facilities but for our residences and businesses as well.”
The city will purchase additional “green blocks” to reach its 100% renewable energy goal for city buildings. Green blocks are units of 300 kilowatt hours of renewable energy – a mix of solar, wind, and biogas – available to River Falls Municipal Utilities customers through WPPI Energy, a regional power company serving 51 locally owned, not-for-profit electric utilities in Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and Iowa.
Green blocks have been available for purchase by customers since 2004. Today, over 11% of River Falls residents voluntarily purchase green blocks, making the city first in the state and fifth in the nation for green energy participation.
City buildings going “green” in January include:
- City Hall
- Public Library
- Public Works garage
- Wastewater treatment plant
- Public Safety Building
- Emergency management
- Glen Park pool
The city’s sustainability efforts are managed through its POWERful! Choices program, a division of River Falls Municipal Utilities, which provides electric, water, and wastewater services for River Falls.