“Lucky for us some smart fellars worked up a plan that helped pull us out of those economic hard times and helped keep the cropland in place too. They called ‘em Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Bad as it was, those districts brought our towns and villages together by helping us learn from each other; and things slowly did get better,” Ole concluded.
“You know what Ole? It was a lot like that here back in 2008,” Herky Hawkeye piped in. “The Great Recession was grinding us down, and that summer heat waves and torrential rains played havoc with our crops. Just like you, we needed a new way forward, a plan to address the financial and environmental issues at the same time.
“These days it’s energy issues troubling us. So we modeled a plan on the Soil and Water Conservation District framework to create Energy Districts (EDs). Between that ‘giant sucking sound’ of billions of energy dollars leaving Iowa and climate disruption from fossil fuel use, our small communities were beginning to crumble.”
Herky went on to explain how the Winneshiek (County) Energy District incorporated in 2010, and a clean energy transition began to unfold. Energy use decreased and locally-owned renewable energy generation grew.
Energy Districts follow a few key principles:
- Local Leadership – EDs are driven by local folks who coordinate with state and federal resources.
- Technical Expertise – EDs learn from savvy energy experts.
- Local Ownership – EDs create the conditions that grow locally-owned energy efficiency and renewable energy businesses. Jobs are created; wealth remains in the community, and climate stewardship is fostered.
- Inclusivity – The ED framework works anywhere.