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River Falls receives spotlight as national leader in renewable energy

RIVER FALLS – River Falls is again receiving national recognition from the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the community’s renewable energy efforts.

NREL evaluated the renewable energy efforts of utilities in four categories and released lists of the top 10 utilities across the nation. Customers of River Falls Municipal Utilities (RFMU) rank third in the nation for Green Power Participation and fifth nationally for the community’s Green Power Sales rate. With the exception of 2005, River Falls has achieved at least one top 10 ranking from the NREL each year the lists have been released since 2004.

NREL’s list for Green Power Participation Rates measures the percentage of customers who participated in a utility’s renewable or ‘green’ energy programs. In 2020, about 12% of RFMU customers voluntarily participated in Choose Renewable.

The Green Power Sales Rate list compares the ratio of a utility’s renewable energy sales to total sales. In 2020, renewable energy accounted for 6.55% of RFMU’s sales — up from 4.16% in 2019, the last year for which NREL compiled this data.

“We’re proud of the people of River Falls for keeping our relatively small community on the map when it comes to renewable energy,” said Kevin Westhuis, utility director of River Falls Municipal Utilities. “To have so many individuals invested in a zerocarbon future is very exciting, and I hope we’re able to continue leading the way until every community in the nation runs on 100% renewable energy.”

One of the utility’s most popular offerings, Choose Renewable, helped the community obtain the recognition. The program allows customers to sign up to increase their monthly bill by a few dollars, ensuring their space is powered by renewable energy such as solar, wind and biogas. A typical home can run on clean energy with the purchase of two to three blocks, with one 300 kilowatt-hour (kWh) block costing $2 per month.

RFMU continues to add renewable energy to its overall power supply as well. In September 2021, the Point Beach Solar Energy Center came online. Located near Two Rivers, Wis., the facility features more than 315,000 solar panels with the capacity to generate 100 megawatts of electricity. WPPI Energy, a wholesale power provider owned by the member utilities it serves, is purchasing the energy. As a member-owner of WPPI Energy, River Falls is now powered by a portion of that energy. With the addition of Point Beach Solar, the WPPI Energy membership is on track to reduce carbon dioxide emissions approximately 45% by 2025 when compared to 2005.

To learn more about River Falls Municipal Utilities’ renewable energy efforts, visit www.rfmu.org.

River Falls Municipal Utilities

RFMU is the locally owned and operated electric, water/sewer, and wastewater utility, serving around 7,300 customers in River Falls. At RFMU, we strive to provide low-cost, reliable service with a friendly, personal touch. After all, we are your friends and neighbors who share your values and understand your needs. That’s what makes a local, community-owned utility a valuable asset to citizens and the community. For more information visit rfmu.org.

NREL

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. For more information visit nrel.gov.

Submitted by River Falls Municipal Utilities

October 27, 2021