A Growing Energy District Movement

Andy Johnson, Director

Energy Districts are sprouting around eastern Iowa almost as fast as the corn, and a movement is born.

Champions of locally-owned clean energy are taking the bull by the horns and getting to work in county after county. These county efforts have just created an association, and the model has just been included in the comprehensive national clean energy and climate action plan of presidential candidate Jay Inslee.

Clean Energy Districts of Iowa is a new umbrella association established by five founding Energy Districts, from Winneshiek, Clayton, Howard, Dubuque, and Johnson Counties. Another District has recently formed in Delaware County, and serious conversations are being had in Polk, Jackson, Allamakee and elsewhere. The purpose of the association reads:

To enable and support leadership and the general public in implementing and accelerating the locally-owned, clean, efficient and fair energy transition through

  • Continued development of the concept of Energy Districts as local institutions leading the clean energy transition in every county
  • Partnership with local clean energy leaders interested in starting an Energy District, and with organizations supporting the development and spread of the Energy District model
  • Service to existing Energy Districts and their public through enabling technical and financial tools, network coordination, and other means

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque has become a strong advocate for and partner of Energy Districts. They recently acquired a significant grant from the Nathan Cummings Foundation to assist in building the Energy District movement in support of an equitable clean energy transition.

All this activity in locally-owned clean energy leadership and implementation is making a few waves beyond eastern Iowa as well. Just last week, presidential candidate and Washington Governor Jay Inslee released “An Evergreen Economy for America”, the most comprehensive national clean energy and climate action plan yet.

Winneshiek Energy District does not endorse any candidate for political office, but we are happy to educate all that will listen about the benefits of local leadership and local ownership of the clean energy transition. We’re thrilled that the Energy District model is included in Governor Inslee’s plan, as one bullet among many under the section “Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy”:

Creating Energy Districts, modeled on the Soil Conservation Districts established as part of the New Deal, and on the Energy Districts that have taken root today. Energy Districts involve voluntary participation and promote locally driven plans in rural communities for renewable energy, smart grid, broadband telecommunications, and energy efficiency projects.  They also support economic development and diversification, agricultural productivity and sustainability, and pollution reductions. Today, the Winneshiek Energy District in Iowa is a collaborative community that aims for 100% locally owned, efficient, renewable energy by mid-century.

Every member, sponsor, collaborator and otherwise supporter of every Energy District should take a moment and pat yourself on the back. Together we’re building – as the title of our recent concept document describes – a Geography of Change. Thank you, and onwards.

Pictured: Board members of Iowa’s Clean Energy Districts. Represented: Dubuque County, Clayton County, Howard County, Johnson County, and Winneshiek County.

Share this Post