Four small towns in northeast Iowa have wrapped up a competition to see which community could reduce their energy use the most over the course a year.
Carole Yates, Program Manager at the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education, coordinated the competition involving the towns of Readlyn, Fairbank, Hudson and Dike. Readlyn and Fairbank competed together as one “team” since the towns comprise the Wapsie Valley School District.
Yates says Wapsie Valley won the competition by reducing their electrical usage by 6.4% over the course of 2012. The competition covered only residential electric usage. Residents of Hudson reduced their energy use by 5.1% while energy use in Dike dropped 3.1%.
David Osterberg is executive director of the Iowa Policy Project (IPP), which served as a partner in the project. “For winning, the Wapsie Valley High School will have solar panels installed this spring or summer,” Osterberg said.
The Iowa Policy Project obtained grants to finance both the competition and the prize for the winning towns. All four towns involved in the competition are serviced by municipally owned electric utilities.
Osterberg believes similar competitions will be organized elsewhere in the state. He and Yates will talk about that today when they present a report before the annual meeting of the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities. “We know how to do this now,” Osterberg said. “We can come into your community and you can get the kind of (energy) reductions these four towns did – if you want to do it.”
Osterberg said he’s not sure how much, in terms of combined dollars, the towns saved on their energy bills as a result of the competition – but he said it’s certainly “a significant amount.” Residents of the towns were encouraged to reduce their energy usage by doing such things as switching lights off, weatherizing their homes and waiting for a full load before using the clothes or dishwasher.