MENASHA – Helping Wisconsin’s people and landscape.
Those are Joe Kottwitz’s favorite parts of his job as an energy advisor with Focus on Energy.
Focus on Energy, a statewide program funded by participating Wisconsin utilities, works with eligible residents and businesses to install cost effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that otherwise would not be completed, or to complete them sooner than scheduled.
“I like the daily interaction of meeting new people and helping them in some way,” says Kottwitz, 30.
Kottwitz helps farmers, school districts and local governments access Focus on Energy’s information, resources and financial incentives to implement projects. These efforts reduce energy waste, promotes in-state economic development, and protects the environment.
“I appreciate Wisconsin’s land ethic, so my overarching personal and professional goal is to contribute to our natural environment,” said the self-described outdoorsy guy.
Kottwitz graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a natural resource management degree. After college he wrote energy management plans for the City of Stevens Point and Portage County. During that time he conducted energy audits of municipal buildings with a Focus on Energy advisor; a job he took on a few months later.
Since 2011 Kottwitz has worked with program participants in Calumet, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Winnebago counties in east-central Wisconsin.
One change he’s noticed to that area’s agricultural landscape is the rise of dairy goat farming.
Calumet County’s Town of Brothertown has become home to two large goat dairies; Likely establishing this area east of Lake Winnebago as the dairy goat capital of the United States.
Kottwitz worked with Drumlin Dairy to qualify for more than $40,000 in incentives for energy efficient equipment for the newly constructed farm. Its proximity to a natural gas line qualified more equipment for Focus on Energy incentives, as propane-powered equipment does not qualify.
Variable speed drives reduce energy usage by vacuum pumps, ventilation fans and the milk cooling system. LED (light emitting diode) fixtures are found throughout the barns, milking parlor and workshop.
Thousands of goats drink from no-energy waterers. An energy efficient boiler system provides in-floor heat in the milking area where 120 goats fit on the rotary parlor.
“From the road the farm looks like a dairy for maybe several hundred cows, but instead it is home to thousands of goats,” Kottwitz said. “The scale of everything is wild.”
The majority of the milk used to make U.S. goat cheese is imported as curd from Holland, which spurred the need for U.S.-produced goat milk, Kottwitz explained.
He notes that today’s farmer is a sophisticated business person.
“They do it all,” he said. “They come to the table with their numbers crunched and they invest in equipment purposefully, along with everything else they do.”
Kottwitz grew up with an appreciation for farmers and rural Wisconsin.
The Jefferson County native grew up on an 80-acre spread of tillable and wooded land outside of Lake Mills. His family raised chickens, tended large gardens, and rented their farmland to a nearby farmer.
“We are big deer hunters,” said the 2005 Lake Mills High School graduate.
Kottwitz and his wife, Jill, live in Menasha, where they enjoy camping, fishing, snowboarding, and spending time with family and friends.
To work with one of Focus on Energy’s energy advisors, contact 888.947.7828.
For information on how Focus on Energy can help your farm’s bottom line, visit www.focusonenergy.com/agribusiness.
About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit www.focusonenergy.com.