Thanks to Co-op, Small Iowa Town Goes Big On Solar
The local solar movement traces back to Farmers Electric Cooperative, the utility serving 605 households and businesses in Kalona and its surrounding villages. Per capita, Farmers Electric generates 3,719 watts of solar power per subscriber — 76 percent more than the next utility! The utility, owned by its customers, offers a window into how community-minded thinking can shape sensible energy policy and reinvent the local economy.
Eight years after Farmers Electric launched a fierce campaign to integrate renewables into its energy mix, it’s obvious that solar has caught on. Skeptics were slow to opt in to clean power in the beginning. But now, in Kalona, solar power is the norm. They line the roofs of farmhouses and other local businesses, and ground-mounted arrays power other agribusiness operations.
What started with a single pilot array at a local high school has grown into a robust distributed generation network including farmers, homeowners and business owners cashing in on clean energy. Even as customers save money, more of their energy dollars stay within the community, boosting the local economy.
Farmers Electric remains an outlier in promoting solar so aggressively, but its approach provides a blueprint for other power providers.
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- 1: Expanding the Reach of Food Co-ops
- 18: The Southern Cooperative Movement
- 17: Scaling-Up the Cooperative Movement
- 16: Intentional Communities and Solidarity Economics
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- 3: Worker Cooperative Replication
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