Monroe County Energy Challenge helps our community reduce energy use in order to improve quality of life, minimize environmental impact and save money. We conduct free home energy assessments, provide free attic insulation to low-income families, teach youth about the importance of renewable energy and educate the public about energy conservation. Facebook |  Website

The MCEC committee meets on Friday of the second week each month at 2:30 in the Kelley Room at City Hall, to design and discuss energy conservation projects in the community. All are welcome! Contact info: | 812-349-3558.


2/10/2019, Monroe County Energy Challenge, Ellen Bergan reporting –

The Monroe County Energy Challenge is partnering with Duke Energy and SmartWatt Energy to promote the Small Business Energy Savings (SBES) program to help local services realize their energy savings potential. Through this program, local businesses and non-profits can receive a free, no obligation energy assessment for their building.

At the end of this assessment, SmartWatt Energy will provide a full review of results, recommended energy-efficient improvements, and projected savings. Duke Energy will pay up to 80% of these improvements upfront, and project installations are scheduled at the business’s convenience.

Alongside saving businesses money and energy, this program will contribute to helping us achieve the City of Bloomington’s Sustainability Action Plan goal of reducing our building energy use 20% by 2023. For more information on the program, click here.

Ellen Bergan is the MCEC Energy Outreach Coordinator.    


2/9/2018, Anne Hedin reporting for SIREN, ICEY and the MoCo Energy Challenge  –

Frankly, when ICEY first brought SIREN the idea of challenging the Elm Heights/Bryan Park neighborhood to double its solar density in a few months’ time, SIREN didn’t think the idea had a snowball’s chance in hell. The neighbors proved us wrong, and we wanted to thank them for that and for the momentum they unleashed. So on January 18 we threw the neighbors a party.

First, this is what the solar “snowball” looks like:

The neighborhood is Elm Heights/Bryan Park, where SIREN and ICEY organized the first local Solarize campaign in the summer of 2016. Some 30 neighbors opted in to the group-buy program which more than doubled the existing number of solar homes. They panels they installed added ~200 kilowatts of electric generating capacity.

The snowball got bigger. The Solarize Bloomington campaign kicked off in the first half of 2017 with the City as our partner. Then the scope was expanded in the second half of 2018 to include Monroe and the surrounding counties. These two phases added ~900 kW.

The cumulative total of ~1100 kW installed over 18 months is enough, dear friends, to keep 22.5 tons of carbon dioxide from going into the air over the warranty period alone of those systems. To get an equivalent carbon offset, you could plant 105,712 tree seedlings and let them grow for 10 years. But there is not enough room in our neighborhood. It measures less than one square mile.

Also in 2017, the City committed to adding 5 megawatts – nearly five times as much as the Solarize projects – on public buildings and parks. We don’t want to take any credit away from Mayor Hamilton for this achievement, but he personally went solar with that first group of neighbors. Just saying…

Back to the snowball… All the tools, processes and people power it takes to run such an initiative rolled up into Solarize Indiana. It got 65 more buy-ins in the second half of 2017 and is ready to launch its 2018 campaigns. The momentum continues to build.

It all began with a few individuals. It grew by the power of example.

The next time you hear someone ask, “What difference can one person make on climate change?,” think of the snowball.

Party, party!

Fourteen neighbors came to the party, some bringing rolls to go with the soup and dessert to put on the buffet. The atmosphere was a warm and jubilant contrast to the freezing and snowy night. Katherine Tilghman represented ICEY as she had during the original house parties in 2016. SIREN had three people present: me as host, Darrell Boggess to provide updates on legislative matters affecting solar owners, and Woodie Bessler to field technical questions that people brought with them.

Nolan Hendon and Ellen Bergan represented the Monroe County Energy Challenge (MCEC) and demonstrated the solar cars available upon request to teach children on the Energy Bus and in classrooms. SIREN always recommends that before you buy solar, you try to reduce the amount of energy you consume. MCEC shows people how to do that through its Task of the Month tips and numerous other resources.

This house party was sponsored by the Time to Choose Coalition; all three participating groups are members.  We asked our guests and we ask you to help in the following ways if you can.

PROTECT AND EXTEND SOLAR OWNERSHIP. Contact your legislators and voice your support for solar. Talk to people about Solarize Indiana (including Solarize Bloomington) and its 2018 group-buy programs; net metering is still available for 15 years. Contribute a testimonial about the process and benefits of going solar for use in publicity. Sign up for the SIREN email list to be kept up-to-date on issues and to participate in sharing information. Ask a SIREN volunteer or email for details or help with any of the above.

COMMIT TO USING LESS ENERGY AT HOME. Duke Energy and REMC both offer free home energy assessments upon request. This is a great way to identify easy energy and money savings opportunities. Duke Energy also offers small business assessments and cost-sharing opportunities for energy upgrades. Customers of both utilities can purchase name brand LEDs online at a significant price reduction. Using a smart or programmable thermostat can significantly reduce your heating and cooling bills.



The members of these groups are people like you who believe that it is possible to keep the earth on a safe course if we all get together and act in our best interest.

Anne Hedin is the editor of the Time to Choose newsletter and a member of SIREN.


1/9/2017, Monroe County Energy Challenge: “Bloomington, Bikes, and Blenders” Event at IU

As a part of the Time to Choose Coalition’s house party series, MCEC’s Ellen Bergan planned and facilitated a “Bloomington, Bikes, and Blenders” event at the Collins Living Learning Center at Indiana University. Featuring guest speakers Beth Rosenbarger, the City of Bloomington Bike and Ped Coordinator, and Hugh Farrell and Mia B. from the Bloomington Community Bike Project, the event centered around how bikes can not only contribute to better individual and environmental health, but also build strong, sustainable communities. Following the discussion, participants were able to use MCEC’s Energy Bike 2.0 to make their own smoothies through pedal power!

MCEC Energy Outreach Coordinator Ellen Bergan introduces the Bloomington, Bikes, and Blenders guest speakers.

With Beth Rosenbarger, participants were able to discuss the relationship between bikes and municipalities, delving into how bikes impact cities and how cities impact biking. Participants learned more about the upcoming bike sharing program between IU and the City of Bloomington, bike regulations, and the history of the B-Line and its effects on Bloomington. Discussion also covered the relation between urban planning and biking and brought up issues concerning how roads can disrupt municipalities and their space and movement.

With the Bloomington Bike Project, participants were brought into an invigorating conversation based around how programs like the Bike Project are tools of empowerment. The discussion turned to how biking and bike/community programs act as  bottom-up  solutions in uniting  individuals and forming a stronger, more efficient community that can better combat the causes and effects of climate change.

Biking on the Energy Bike 2.0 to blend smoothies!

For more information on the Bloomington Community Bike Project, a local cooperative that  helps get the city of Bloomington moving by recycling bicycles back into the community , check out its website!

This post was reprinted with permission from the MCEC newsletter.

11/14/2017, Monroe County Energy Challenge 

At the invitation of the Kiwanis Club, the Energy Bus took part in Operation: Chili for Children on Friday, October 27.  The family-friendly event, now in its sixth year, raises funds to benefit blind and vision-impaired children from birth to three through Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) as well as to assist sending teen age delegates to American Legion Auxiliary Hoosier Girls State and support Kiwanis Youth Program participants from first grade through college. Volunteer Nolan Hendon drove the bus into the National Guard Armory and demonstrated solar and wind energy for visitors.

Kiwanis organizer Thomasina O’Conner said, “The kids loved the bus!” And as her pictures show, they also loved peddling the energy bikes to see how much electricity they could generate with sheer muscle power and how many bulbs they could make light up. The Energy Bus can come to your event too.  Just fill out a scheduling request here.

10/12/2017, Monroe County Energy Challenge, Ellen Bergan reporting –

The Monroe County Energy Challenge (MCEC) has undergone some big transitions in recent months. With the departure of Jacqui Bauer and Jackie Duemler, a new team of interns and volunteers has formed to continue the work. Sara Schwarz is now the main go-to person for the Solar, Wind & Watts Roadshow. Eyob Moges is expanding the Workplace Partners Program, with a focus on energy efficiency in restaurants and rental housing. Basim Alessa provides IT support and data analysis. I am the Energy Outreach Coordinator.

The EnergyBus has been busy! Recently, it’s participated in numerous events, including the Bryan Park Neighborhood Block Party, Bloomington Community Involvement Fair, IU Student Involvement Fair, Gentry Estates Neighborhood Picnic, City of Bloomington’s Driverless Bus event, and City of Bloomington’s “Take it to the Streets!” event in Broadview neighborhood. If you want the Energy Lab on Wheels to visit your neighborhood, church or school event, please fill out a scheduling request here.

In terms of our goals, MCEC would like to live up to its name of being a Monroe County initiative and expand our educational energy outreach beyond the area of central Bloomington, targeting areas such as Ellettsville, Stinesville, Harrodsburg, and Smithville-Sanders. Additionally, we are looking forward to continuing our Solar, Wind & Watts program with area schools, as well as working on how to create incentives for landlords to provide more energy efficient housing.

MCEC is excited to re-establish its presence in the Time to Choose Coalition and is looking forward to see what new opportunities await us!

Ellen Bergan, MCEC Energy Outreach Coordinator, is a Cox Scholar in her freshman year at IU.    


6/11/2017, Monroe County Energy Challenge, Anne Hedin reporting –

Jackie Duemler, the Outreach Coordinator for the Monroe County Energy Challenge, is winding up her job and preparing to marry a very lucky guy and move to Chile.

Jacqui Bauer, the City of Bloomington’s Sustainability Coordinator and the head of the MCEC Task Force, says, “When Jackie joined us, the Energy Challenge had been in progress for a year, but it was hard to juggle it along with everything else we had going on, and it just wasn’t getting the attention it needed.  Enter Jackie, and she just jumped right in.  She immediately gave organization and energy and life to many of the ideas we’d been toying with as well as many of her own.  We couldn’t have made this happen without her!”

That’s Jackie Duemler, second from left in the middle row, surrounded by AmeriCorps and other MCEC volunteers.

To see what Jackie Duemler did with all that energy, you need only read the monthly MCEC newsletter and the Energy Challenge blog. The Energy Bus, the attic insulation and weatherization programs, the Solar, Wind & Watts Roadshow, home and childcare center energy assessments, the Workplace Partner Program, recognition for Energy Leaders, and waves of AmeriCorps volunteers all thrived in her care.  Lots of people saved lots of money, and even more got a good energy education.

I’ll bet everyone who met Jackie along the way remembers her bright smile and willing spirit. We wish her great happiness in the next stage of her life.


6/11/2017, Monroe County Energy Challenge, Jackie Duemler reporting –

The Monroe County Energy Challenge has just converted a SCCAP Head Start bus into a Mobile Energy Lab! Over the past 4 weeks, an AmeriCorps team and several volunteers spent time painting it, designing, and building interactive activities which will help our community better understand renewable energy generation and energy efficiency! Activities include a solar model car racetrack, a working wind turbine, watt meters that allow participants to better understand how they use energy in their own lives, solar panel exhibits and more!

The Mobile Lab has been a great hit at the Farmers Market! To bring the bus to your neighborhood, park, or upcoming event, please email or call Jackie Duemler at (812)349-3558. Learn more here.

The Energy Challenge looking for volunteers to help coordinate four of its most successful community programs, of which the Energy Bus/Mobile Lab is just one. See the others here.

Jackie Duemler is Energy Outreach Coordinator for the City of Bloomington.

5/10/2017, Monroe County Energy Challenge, Jackie Duemler reporting –

UPDATE: The MCEC Attic Insulation Program just wrapped up its second program. Between the 2016-2017 programs we air sealed and insulated 42 Monroe County homes and reduced participant’s utility bills by a combined $149,000 over a 10 year period. The program has also helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 120,000 lbs/year and improved the comfort of many families. Both of these programs were completed with a $20,000 grant from Vectren Energy and NCCC AmeriCorps volunteer teams.

NEW: We will also be welcoming a new NCCC AmeriCorps team this week that will be helping the MCEC conduct FREE Home Energy Assessments. The assessments will offer individualized recommendations on ways to reduce energy use and save money in your home and supply basic weatherization as needed. Appointments fill up fast, so call (812) 349-3558 or e-mail to schedule an appointment this month. This is a great opportunity to save money and make your home more comfortable at the same time! We’ll also be sharing our team to help collecting items to sell at the Hoosier to Hoosier (H2H) community sale, which diverts waste from landfills, and at the South Central Community Action Program’s (SCCAP) Growing Opportunities Greenhouse.

Jackie Duemler is Energy Outreach Coordinator for the City of Bloomington.

4/8/2017, Monroe County Energy Challenge, Jackie Duemler reporting –

The only new news is that we will be receiving the help of a second NCCC Americorps team from May through June. That team will focus on doing energy assessments; collecting items from IU dorms and student apartments for the Hoosier to Hoosier (H2H) sale in August; and working once a week in the SCCAP Growing Opportunity greenhouse.

Here is a picture of the phenomenal NCCC Americorps team that has been working with us since March, standing in front of the Energy Bus with weatherizing volunteer Hannah Kasak- Gliboff, an ICEY volunteer:

Our focus for the March and April team is solely on having the biggest impact we can on low-income families through the attic insulation/weatherization program. In the first 3 weeks of the program, our phenomenal NCCC Americorps team insulated 8 Monroe County homes, reducing participants’ utility bills by a combined $43,186 over the next 10 years. The program has also helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42,856 lbs/year!

If you are interested in having your home insulated, please call (812) 349-3558 or e-mail to schedule an initial assessment.

We are also making huge progress on the MCEC Solar, Wind and Watts Roadshow, which has expanded to include the Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation. In the first week of April alone, we will visit 22 classrooms and 550 students! Last month, the NCCC team took a turn teaching over 70 local 2nd grade students about energy conservation and renewable energy resources. More details.

Jackie Duemler is Energy Outreach Coordinator for the City of Bloomington.

3/17/2017, Monroe County Energy Challenge – Jackie Duemler reporting

With help from AmeriCorps NCCC, the MCEC will be providing free or low cost attic insulation and air sealing this March-April. Space is limited and priority will be given to low-income households. This can save residents up to $600/year on utility bills and up to $1,400 in contractor fees. This is a great opportunity to save money and make your home more comfortable at the same time! Call (812)349-3558 or email to see if you qualify.

Last month, the Time to Choose newsletter included a link to our video on last year’s Solar, Wind, and Watts Roadshow. Duke Energy just gave us a grant for $2,760 from Duke Energy to expand the Roadshow this year.  We are excited that we can now offer this fun, innovative energy program to all Monroe County schools. It’s an incredible opportunity for our youth to learn about renewable resources from engaging young teachers and leaders.

Solar, Wind & Watts Roadshow teachers and students

The Solar, Wind, and Watts Roadshow is a youth energy education program in which the MCEC and high school Environmental Science students from Harmony, Bloomington High School South, and Edgewood High School team up to teach local 2-5th grade students about energy conservation and renewable energy resources. Activities include solar car races, discovering how wind turbines generate electricity, pedaling an energy bike to generate electricity, and exploring the watt demand of common appliances.

Jackie Duemler is Energy Outreach Coordinator for the City of Bloomington

1/15/2017 – The Monroe County Energy Challenge helps our community reduce energy use in order to improve our quality of life, minimize our environmental impact, and save money.

We conduct free home energy assessments, provide free attic insulation to low-income families, teach youth about the importance of renewable energy, and educate the public on energy conservation techniques.

 Some of our accomplishments include:

  • Providing over 490 free Energy Assessments to homes in Monroe County.
  • We air sealed and insulated 22 low-income homes with an estimated 10-year savings of over $84,000 and a greenhouse gas reduction of over 46,000 lbs./YEAR.
  • We partnered with Duke Energy for Project Porchlight, an initiative that distributed over 34,000 free LED light bulbs with an annual energy savings of up to $230,000.
  • We worked with local high school students to educate 2nd-4th graders about renewable energy through our Solar, Wind & Watts Roadshow.
  • We hosted or participated in over 230 community events including energy fairs, parades, weatherization demonstrations, community presentations and more!

To get involved with the Monroe County Energy Challenge, we hope that you will:

  • sign up  for a free home energy assessment that will help find you ways to save energy and money at home
  • sign up to volunteer with one of our many diverse outreach programs
  • consider donating to the Challenge to enable us to continue our exciting new programs. We are currently applying for a Partners for Places equity grant that would match all donations received by January 25th, effectively doubling your gift.