By Regi Goodale
Collaborate locally. Grow sustainably. Lead nationally. These three themes, which emerged during development of the recently released Iowa Energy Plan, sum up the goals for the energy industry in our state. Fundamentally, these six words also align with the overall business model of Iowa’s electric cooperatives.
The Iowa Energy Plan, released in December, is the result of months of hard work by Iowans throughout the state. In 2015, the state of Iowa identified energy as an area of strategic importance to the state’s overall economy and economic development efforts.
Led by Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Iowa Economic Development Authority and the Iowa Department of Transportation took the lead on preparing a state energy plan. Through an application process, 48 individuals were selected to serve on working groups that would guide development of the plan. These people came from all areas of the state and represented utilities, business, industry and energy-related organizations. Iowa’s electric cooperatives were well-represented by Jim Gossett, director of economic development and key accounts for Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, and Lyle Korver, CEO of North West REC.
The working groups were formed around four areas that were identified as integral to developing the energy plan:
- Economic development and energy careers
- Iowa’s energy resources
- Transportation and infrastructure
- Energy efficiency and conservation
Working group members provided input, reviewed energy data and policy assessments, and helped shape the objectives and strategies of the energy plan. Through co-op representation in the working groups, we had a seat at the table and were part of the conversations that took place throughout the year at public forums and meetings in every region of the state.
For decades, the overarching goal of Iowa’s locally owned and locally governed electric cooperatives has been to provide safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible power. We’ve achieved this goal through our commitment to cooperation among cooperatives – a guiding co-op principle. Year in and year out, we work together through local, national, regional and international structures to improve services, bolster local economies and effectively address community needs. Among many things, it’s led to the long-term affordability, reliability and resiliency of electricity for our member-owners. We’re pleased that the framework of the 100-page Iowa Energy Plan also places an emphasis on this goal.
In addition, the plan focuses on incentives, rather than mandates, for achieving our state’s energy goals. Incentives have served Iowa well in recent years, and the state is a national leader in renewable energy and biodiesel and ethanol production. The Iowa Energy Plan further lays out a commitment to the development of an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy system that maximizes economic benefits for our state.
The Iowa Energy Plan is a roadmap for Iowa to continue moving forward. Iowa’s electric cooperatives look forward to sharing more details about the Iowa Energy Plan throughout the year, and we look forward to implementing strategies that are in the best interests of cooperative member-owners. For more information about the Iowa Energy Plan, please go to www.iowaenergyplan.org.
Regi Goodale is the director of regulatory affairs for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.