Bloomfield, Iowa pushing for energy independence by 2030

The Davis County seat of Bloomfield (population 2,640) is “instituting aggressive strategies to become energy independent by 2030,” Karen Uhlenhuth reported for Midwest Energy News on October 1.

The city council in Bloomfield decided to pursue the goal of energy independence after a pair of consultants and the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities last fall produced a study that concluded that with a lot of efficiency upgrades and a relatively modest investment in renewable energy, the town could meet all of its electricity needs with locally-produced power.

One advantage Bloomfield has is a municipal utility, which tends to be more open to reducing power sales, said Tom Wind, one of the authors of the study.

Iowa’s 136 municipal electric utilities “have a lot of flexibility to do different things because they are governed by the city council or a local board of trustees,” Wind wrote in an e-mail. “For example, they can tailor any new power-supply contract with the flexibility they need to accommodate local wind and solar generation. A community served by an investor-owned utility has no say about where their power comes from.”

Click through to read Uhlenhuth’s whole piece, which describes the mix of energy efficiency, solar, and geothermal projects expected to help Bloomfield reduce energy consumption while increasing production. City staff recently visited the Fayette County seat of West Union to learn about its installation of geothermal heating and permeable pavement. Bleeding Heartland discussed West Union’s successful streetscape project here.

The non-profit news site Midwest Energy News (on the web here and on Twitter here) is a must-follow for anyone interested in energy policy, especially renewable energy.

Speaking of which, Midwest Energy News just announced the winners of their new “40 under 40” award to recognize leaders in the field of clean energy. Two Iowans made the list out of hundreds nominated from seven states. Congratulations to Paritosh Kasotia and Dwight Stewart; I’ve posted their short bios after the jump.

Iowa winners of the Midwest Energy News first annual “40 under 40” award:

Paritosh Kasotia, Founder and CEO, Unfolding Energy

Paritosh Kasotia is the Founder/CEO of Unfolding Energy. Previously Kasotia led the Energy Office at the Iowa Economic Development Authority. In this capacity, she worked closely with stakeholders to make clean energy commonplace. She has served as the Federal Programs Manager as well as the Statistical Research Analyst at the Iowa Energy Office. Kasotia has made several presentations, both nationally and state-wide on energy topics and is a published author. Kasotia serves on the Board of the Iowa Renewable Energy Association. She has an MBA from Drake, an M.P.A. from Indiana University, and a B.A. from Drake.

Dwight Stewart, Founder and President, Igor

Dwight Stewart is a serial entrepreneur and innovator, with a focus on building disruptive software and technology innovations that provide clear and unique value for the clean energy industry. He has a proven track record with companies he founded, such as Quality Attributes, which developed software that provided near-real-time energy or resource information, visualizations, and intelligence, and was grown into a multi-million dollar corporation with international brand recognition. Stewart’s current venture, Igor, is focused on developing the tools to provide intelligent automation and feedback of LED lighting fixtures to maximize user control and minimize energy waste.

Tags: Energy, Local, Solar, Wind
  • Rural Electric Cooperatives should have the same kind of flexibility.

    They are owned by their member-customers. But there seems to be quite a variation in their attitudes. My co-op’s most recent newsletter headlined an attack on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan using scare tactics, claiming the Plan will “dramatically increase electric bills”and “threaten thousands of American jobs.” In my west-central Iowa area, wind and solar are adding jobs.

    • my impression

      is that as a group, the rural electric cooperatives are “conservative” and slow to embrace new technologies and approaches. But the Farmers Electric Cooperative in the Kalona area installed Iowa’s largest solar array last year. So clearly it can be done is there is vision on the coop board.

      • A co-op to my west, WIPCO, has been promoting solar.

        They have been holding open houses and demonstrations of solar installations. And they have been providing direct support to members who want to add solar panels.

      • My understanding

        It is my understanding (coming from a friend who serves on a rural electric coop board) that some RECs were chartered as generation and distribution cooperatives and others are just distribution cooperatives.  I would suppose that depending on the original charter back in the 1930s, it could change how a particular REC might view its relationship to development of alternative sources of electrical energy in the areas that it serves.

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