Winneshiek Energy District

Energy Districts as Universal Local

State and federal policies and programs are critical for a clean energy future, but as in politics, ultimately ALL ENERGY IS LOCAL.

Universal local leadership and infrastructure supporting the clean energy transformation is the key missing link, and Energy Districts provide a highly replicable and impactful model through:

  1. Quality, comprehensive, results-oriented energy planning with all energy users, including technical analysis of efficiency and renewable energy opportunities, economics and incentives, and plan development and follow-through
  2. Local investment and job/wealth creation through market transformation and the acceleration of energy efficiency and a renewable energy economy
  3. Community mobilization through action, education, inspiration, and development of an energy ethic and identity: we're all in this together at the local and community level

Winneshiek Energy District is dedicated to building a network of Energy Districts in Iowa and beyond. We are working hard on enabling policies, funding opportunities and collaborations, and direct technical assistance to possible start-ups. If you're interested in learning more, and building an Energy District in your neck of the woods (or prairie), please contact us.

For more information, see the resource links below:

A November 2016 oped in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, explaining the "unviersal local" model of Energy Districts, and opportunity for state enabling legislation to facilitate their spread

An August 2016 oped in the Des Moines Register and Cedar Rapids Gazette, explaining the importance of locally-led institutions (including Energy Districts, Watershed Districts, and Soil and Water Conservation Districts) in flood prevention.

April 2016 "Local Energy Rules" podcast conversation with John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Our April 2015 article in Iowa County Magazine, explaining the "Universal Local" concept and opportunity behind Energy Districts.

Our July 2015 article in Iowa County Magazine, digging into solar energy opportunities for local government in Iowa.

Our 2016, 2015, and 2014 brochures and  summarizing our vision and achievements.

Our original Energy District concept elsewhere on this site (including additional links). It could use a bit of updating, but it's still valid!


The Energy District "universal local" model is based on the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) model that grew out of the Dust Bown and Great Depression, and below we offer a few relevant links for those interested. SWCDs were founded on the realization that state and federal agencies needed local partners and local leadership to implement private lands conservation in every county in the country. The Roosevelt administration created model SWCD enabling legislation for states, and within 15 years almost every county in the country was covered. The SWCD model and standard enabling legislation was born in Washington and went nationwide; might the Energy District model and enabling legislation be a similar transformational idea born in NE Iowa and spreading outward across the country?

Getting To The Roots: History of Conservation Districts article by Douglas Helms, USDA-NRCS historian, 1993

State Conservation District Laws Development and Variations working paper by Huong N. Tran and Liu Chuang of USDA NRCS, 1996

The Preparation of the Standard State Soil Conservation Districts Law: An Inteview with Philip M Glick, Douglas Helms, USDA-NRCS National Historian, 1990

Soil Conservation Districts: Local Democracy In A National Program, by Herman Walker and Robert Parks, USDA, 1946

Iowa Code Chapter 161A: Soil and Water Conservation