Introducing the Jackson County Energy District

L to R JacksonCED board of directors Secretary Ben Davison, Mike Griffin, Vice-Chair Bill Hainstock, Chair Bruce Fisher, Treasurer Megan Andresen. not pictured Jan Kahler

The Jackson County Energy District (JacksonCED) is a recently incorporated non profit organization dedicated to strengthening our communities by leading the local, fair and clean energy transition. The JacksonCED is the eighth Iowa county to join the coalition of Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, each creating local clean energy prosperity and climate stewardship.The JacksonCED mission will be achieved by inclusively providing energy planning and technical assistance for EVERYONE, including in our homes, businesses, institutions, and farms. Energy districts understand when we save on our energy bills we have more to spend in the local economy and simultaneously reduce our carbon foot print.

The energy district will also provide locally owned clean energy education, community engagement opportunities and advocate for local, clean and fair energy policy. The formation of the JacksonCED was enabled by the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque which obtained grant funds from the Nathan Cummings Foundation, which were expressly earmarked to establish energy districts. Further, the Community Foundation of Jackson County and the Friends of Jackson County Conservation recently awarded additional grant dollars to support formation and initial programming of the Energy District. These important community development partners have combined with local leaders to enable the JacksonCED a firm footing as it begins its important work.

We view the mission of energy districts as a strong partnership to our mission of strengthening communities through growing endowments. The foundation [Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque] has spent almost a year working with energy district enthusiasts in the service region to facilitate the movement and build a case for the grant award. ’Green meets Green,’ the energy district tagline, means that individuals, families, businesses and organizations can save money while also stewarding our natural resources.

The energy districts will serve income-eligible seniors, veterans and disabled individuals first with energy assessment planning and coaching,” Gothard added. “The energy district will surely impact future generations around Jackson County!

Mary Jo Gothard, executive director at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

The organization will focus early efforts on three proven strategies employed by other Iowa Energy Districts.  First, the JacksonCED will lead impartial energy planning services for homes, farms and businesses, helping energy users understand the opportunities for energy savings and the steps to take to realize them. Support may also be available for assisting seniors, veterans, persons living with a disability, and low-income households for implementing energy efficiency measures. Second, JacksonCED will support development of clean, locally generated energy through educational programming which increases market awareness and connects residents to relevant resources and financial incentives. The third strategy includes advocating for  local, clean and fair energy policy.

The effort to spark a Clean Energy District in Jackson county began earlier this year, when local leader and retired Jackson County Conservation Board Environmental Education Coordinator, Ann Burns was asked to round up potential energy district champions for a series of Energy District 101 seed planting meetings. The meetings were led by the Clean Energy Districts of Iowa’s energy district startup coach, Joleen Jansen. Ann helped identify several champions because she believes,:

Energy Districts can bring energy conservation ideas and expertise to local communities in a manner similar to the assistance Soil and Water Conservation Districts provide land owners who want to protect their soil and water. Often, people and businesses have the interest and desire to take steps to conserve energy and reduce their energy costs, but are unsure where or how to begin. A local Energy District will be the resource for those ideas. Helping individuals, businesses and communities save energy costs provides the direct benefit of income retention. Those saved dollars can be reinvested locally through dollars spent or shared to support the families, education, small businesses, parks and other aspects of thriving communities. Taking a longer view, energy conservation is a gift to our grandchildren and great grandchildren. What we don’t squander today will be available to support their futures.

Ann Burns, retired Jackson County Conservation Board Environmental Ed Coordinator

The JacksonCED’s volunteer and generous board of directors is comprised of Chairperson, Bruce Fisher of Monmouth, Vice-chairperson Bill Hainstock of Delmar, Secretary, Ben Davison, Treasurer, Megan Andresen of Maquoketa and board members Mike Griffin of Springbrook and Jan Kahler of Maquoketa. Interested Jackson County residents who would like to know more should contact us.