Energy District and Solar PV Workshop in Decorah, December 8-9

To All Iowa Clean Energy and Climate Stewardship Champions:  don’t get discouraged, roll up your sleeves and get to work! That is the message from Winneshiek Energy District, which hostedthe first Iowa-Midwest Energy District Conference* in Decorah, on December 8-9.

Great things are happening in clean energy at the local level around Iowa. Imagine if we could universalize those efforts, and create a “universal local” infrastructure for local leadership in clean energy and climate stewardship.

This is the idea behind the “green meets green” approach of Energy Districts, built on the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) model: bring local leadership together around the powerful economic impacts and stewardship opportunities of locally-owned clean energy in every single county; accelerate the transition through technical assistance, market transformation, and community engagement; and create a supporting network and local-state-federal partnership.

On the first day of the conference over 50 attendees from 6 states explored the Energy District model, it’s roots in the SWCD,  and ways that it relates to the other clean energy initiatives already happening in our region. Speakers included Andy Johnson, Larry Grimstad, Craig Mosher, Kamyar Enshayan, 

The second day focused on drafting of Energy District enabling legislation for state legislatures: defining powers and responsibilities, exploring funding options, and debating legal relationships to existing state and federal agencies.

The second day also included a special “Basic Photovoltaics: Solar 101” all-day workshop for those interested in learning more about solar PV. This was offered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association as an alternative to the legislative track for Friday December 9.

Creating a “universal local” network of Energy Districts is ambitious, but the model has been successful once before. The SWCDs were a good idea from Washington farmed out to and adopted across the country. Will Energy Districts be a similarly good idea born in the heartland, pioneered by Iowa, and farmed out to the rest of the country?

Over 70 people gathered at Decorah’s Hotel Winnehsiek to explore the possibilities of this movement.

Learn more about Energy Districts. 

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