Going Green in Rural America

By: Ally McJoynt

For a small town in rural Wisconsin with only about 3,600 people living in it, Black River Falls is becoming a leader in renewable energy. From solar panels on roofs to houses heated by geothermal energy and a newly renovated hydroelectric dam to a planned solar field, this small town is showing that even rural America can go green.

The original Black River Falls Dam stood for 98 years, from 1912-2010 and had two hydroelectric generators. In March 2012 the new hydroelectric dam was placed in service [pictured above]. Now, this dam can produce 1,470 kilowatt hours “and is anticipated to provide about 12 percent of the community;s annual electric energy requirement.” (La Crosse Tribune)

Spearheading much of the recent growth in renewable energy has been Jackson Electric Cooperative, a local not-for-profit electric utility. This cooperative was created in 1937 and provides electricity to more than 6,200 homes. 

Jackson Electric, as of March 2020, already has several solar panels [above] at their office just outside of Black River Falls. They also have several electric vehicles that the employees can use while on the job [pictured right].

While Jackson Electric Cooperative has shown that they are moving towards renewable energy for both production and transportation, with a new project on the way. Working with OneEnergy, Jackson Electric will be creating one of the first solar fields in the whole state of Wisconsin. This solar field will look much like the picture below, which OneEnergy has provided to show what the future will look like in Black River Falls. 

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