Willmar Municipal Utilities build community with energy savings

April 2023

In the fall of 2022, staff with Willmar Municipal Utilities (WMU) went the extra mile to make sure under-resourced community members had the resources needed to help reduce their energy costs.

WMU focused efforts on two groups of residents they were concerned about: the Latino community and residents living in manufactured home parks.

WMU Director of Administration Janell Johnson filled in the details. 

“Our project targeted two groups in our community. On October 22, 2022 we participated in a program targeted at the Latino population in conjunction with the City of Willmar Main Street Project titled ‘You Belong Here.’” shares Johnson.

“The purpose of this program was to let them know of the opportunities and resources available to them in our community. We shared energy saving brochures in English and Spanish, gave away LED light bulbs in bags filled with additional information to assist in energy savings, and the avenues for energy assistance.

“Our project on November 30, 2022 consisted of us targeting our two low-income mobile home parks. Our focus was to assist this population with energy saving products and education information to assist them in lowering their energy bills.”

WMU staff shared translated educational materials created by CERTs, as well as LED bulbs to assist roughly seventy-five customers at the “You Belong Here” event.

In November, 137 mobile homes each received a conservation kit that included two faucet aerators, one low-flow showerhead, three LED light bulbs, three window films, a package of weather stripping, and educational material supplied by CERTs.

Willmar Municipal Utilities - Regency Park Energy Efficiency Outreach

Clean Energy Focus: Manufactured Home Park Energy Blitzes with energy saving items and information

West Central CERT Seed Grant: $2,200

Other Resources Leveraged: United Community Action Partnership and WMU budget

Energy Saved Each Year: 13,737 kWh and 4,390 therms

Money Saved Each Year: $5,382

People Involved and Reached: 356

“The project could not have been successful without the assistance of CERT's staff. A sincere thank you for your direction and assistance as we had transitioned staff and needed lots of direction! The feedback has been wonderful and very appreciative in our efforts to assist them. Since then, we have had one of the parks contact us for more information.”

Janell Johnson, director of administration, Willmar Municipal Utilities

People packing conservation kitsPark residents also received applications, educational materials, and an ice scraper/fly swatter (handy!) from United Community Action Partnership, which serves the area with both Energy Assistance and Weatherization services. 

Johnson says the project has given WMU further insight into how to focus their marketing to specific groups instead of their customer base as a whole.

She mentions that the project also strengthened relationships and opened up an avenue for understanding “housing situations where any assistance is appreciated to help them save energy, which assists in saving money.”

When asked about final advice for similar community outreach efforts, Johnson adds “stretch yourself and budget beyond the boundaries of a grant, the payback is 10-fold. Lean on the CERT's staff. We could not have hosted this successful event without their assistance and guidance.”

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