The energetic firebrand from Thy

Passion and always one step ahead. This could summarize Lise Fogh Degns efforts for nearly 30 years in Thisted Kommune. She is the elected official behind the first plan for wind mills from the municipality, that triggered an award, the first holistic energy plan and now the crowning glory: Green accounts for the municipality. Next year she turn 60 and now she is retiring. The politicians has just examined the first green set of accounts, which covers the last four years from 2010 to 2014. The Co2 emission has been reduced by 20% in the four years!

  • That is something to be proud of. That goes to show that what we have started is working, says Lise Fogh Degn, proudly.

She thinks of this as her pinnacle, that she can end her carrier with creating a set of green accounts.

  • The special with Thisted is, that there are both citizens, the municipality and the businesses that are pulling in the same direction, when it goes for energy efforts. Many of the ideas has been conceived in public meetings in the municipality, in cooperation with the other actors and in the administration we also created a lot of inputs. It is important to say, that an administration kan do nothing without the proper political  decisions, says Lise Fogh Degn.

First with a plan for wind mills

-Der er ingen tvivl om, at vi i Thisted Kommune er blandt de bedste til at GØRE tingene. Vi er kendt – både for vores mange testcentre – og for at handle og ikke bare snakke, siger hun.

– Der er ingen tvivl om, at vi i Thisted Kommune er blandt de bedste til at GØRE tingene. Vi er kendt – både for vores mange testcentre – og for at handle og ikke bare snakke, siger hun.

She graduated as a urban planning architect and  has always been interested in ecology and the environment. The first assignments she got in Thisted Kommune, when she started in 1986 was about the local and municipality planning. At that time, there was 120 wind mills erected, based on individual cases and rural permissions. She was assigned the windmill planning and after a call to the ministery, the Thisted Kommune was created as an “experimental municipality”. This was the first municipal windmill plan that was created – and the municipality get subsidiaries for investigations and evaluations.

Award gave enthusiasm

  • In 1992 we received the Planning Agencys award “Renewable Energy Award” for  10.000 DKK and a painting for the mayors office for having created the windmill plan. That really gave us a push in the right direction, that we was at the forefront, it was great and we were very enthusiastic about working on this, says Lise Fogh Degn with enthusiasm.

When the plan, four years later was to be revised, Thisted again was at the front. She saw, that the small windmills was getting older and older and that there was being built new and larger mills.

  • Together with the goverments committee for energy politics, we created the “scrapping scheme”, where you could get subsidiaries for dismantling several smaller windmills in favor of larger windmills, says Lise Fogh Degn.
  • That gave the experience of, that when we contacted the right authorities, then we were listened to and we found out that we, as a municipality can something, she says today about the experience from back then.

The heating became the darling

A new assignment landed hereafter on Lises desk – an assignment that became her darling: Heating planning. When the plan from 2003 was about to be revised in 2012 – holistic was again a key concept. Lise helt a joint meeting with all 11 of the heating suppliers in the municipality and all contributed constructively to reduce the fossile fuels. Lise planted the ideas with them to think green. Thisted Kommune has two of Denmarks cheapest heating plants, Thisted and Vesterbig, where they are burning wood chips from Nationalpark Thy. And today there are only two power plants, that is using fossile fuels.

  • They have all been a part of thinking in new directions and use new technologies, we have had an excellent cooperation with all of them, says Lise Fogh Degn.

Respect out and about

Lise Fogh Degn fylder 60 år i 2016 og har i 30 år været med til at stå i spidsen for, at Thisted Kommune har været i front med energitiltag.

Lise Fogh Degn fylder 60 år i 2016 og har i 30 år været med til at stå i spidsen for, at Thisted Kommune har været i front med energitiltag.

For many years she has been the resource person for KL (Kommunernes Landsforening) and has been used as an expert numerous times. She experiences a great deal of respect regarding the work Thisted Kommune  has done, when she is out for meetings or talks:

  • There is no doubt, that we are amonst the best of DOING things. We are known for not just talking, she says..

In 2007 Thisted Kommune receives yet another award: The prestigious  European Solar Award, that is awarded by the European organization Euro-Solar. The award was given for being the municipality in Europe, which was furthest along by using renewable energy sources.

  • That sparked even more thoughts, we didnt quite know that we was this far ahead. We started a branding of Thisted Kommune as the leading climate municipality in the country, and we became one of Denmarks first climate municipalities, which together with Denmark Nature Preservation Society make a deal that, we would reduce the CO2 emissions by 3% each year, says Lise Fogh Degn.

Holistic energy plan

The Solar award inspired Lise Fogh Degn to make a complete, holistic energy plan for Thisted Kommune.

  • There was a lot of excitement those years, because there was a climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. In the plan we went out with everything we had, and we were in Copenhagen and tell about it. Again, people around found out that it actually can be done in real life. We showed, that it could be done right, in a municipality with 46.000 citizens.

The children is the driving force

The professional work with energy and environment has also made its mark on her private residence in Thisted, where Lise lives with her husband Jørgen.

  • A few years ago we had solar panels fittet and have gone through all the house in regards to lighting, so now we have LED light bulbs everywhere. That is a very good feeling and i like the idea of taking care of the environment.

Her own driving force she explains like this:

  • We have four children. I think a lot about how the World will look in the future. The climate crisis is closing in and that is what my children and grandchildren are going to live in, that worries me. In my opinion, we can have growth, even though we are saving the CO2. It just have to be done right.

Freedom and challenges

Almost 30 years in the same work place sounds like a long time. But the freedom and the new challenges has been crucial.

  • I have had a large degree of freedom and have been able to take initiatives, there has been no one that was stopping me. In this way I have all the time had new challenges, and i have constantly learned of the topics. If this was not the case, I would not have stayed this long, she explains.

Home in the garage there will most like come an electrical-bike, and she has dreams about, what the time should be spent upon. There are letters to the editor about the “outskirts”, that need to be written, maybe she should be a volunteer “trail keeper” within the national park and maybe she wants to be a homework helper and there definitely needs to be more travel. Trips into the beautiful nature in Thy and the daily swin in the Limfjord is high on the list. But if there is time, only time will tell, because she has also plans about going into the family company “Degn Design”. It is not easy to leave a work place, where the heart has been in all that has happened..

  • I hope, that the municipality can keep up the spirit in regards to energy- and climate efforts, and that they can see opportunities in brandint itself. Everyone is talking about Thisted Kommune in these contexts, and there is still a lot of possibilities for development, says Lise Fogh Degn.