Category Archives: General News

Get ready to elevate Iowa’s environment!


Nationally renowned speakers. Leading natural resource, health, climate, agricultural and clean energy organizations. Passionate advocates, professionals, legislators, community leaders and students. They’re all coming together under one roof next Friday, October 2 at Drake University in Des Moines for our 2015 Annual Conference, Elevate: Creating an Environment of Action. Join us: REGISTER TODAY

2013 CNN Hero of the Year Chad Pregracke, author, president & founder of Living Lands & Waters; a non-profit river clean-up organization, will headline the event. He will be joined by a dynamic slate of speakers hailing from across the Midwest, Washington D.C. and Vancouver, who will take to the stage to share their knowledge and expertise during eight thought-provoking sessions. This event has been approved for 3.75 hours of Continuing Legal Education credit. View this year’s agenda.

The day will also feature networking opportunities, top-notch exhibitors and a seasonally-focused lunch.

Discounted registration is available to Council members and students. Scholarships are available for students facing financial barriers.

Questions? Prefer to register via phone? Contact Communications & Outreach Director Katy Heggen at or 515-244-1194 x210.

Join us for our Annual Members Meeting, open to all Council members, immediately following the conference. Staff will provide a brief overview of the Council’s policy priorities for 2016, after which members are invited to ask questions and offer input as well as other issues for consideration.

Please RSVP to Executive Director Ralph Rosenberg at by Friday, Sept. 25th.

We’re hiring!

This WRP site in Worth County provides the landonwer many hours of outdoor recreation including bird watching and hunting.

Committed to creating a sustainable future for Iowa? Enjoy working alongside colleagues that possess a serious work ethic and a good sense of humor? Passionate about building collaboration and creating last change? We’ve been looking for you.

The Iowa Environmental Council is currently hiring an Agricultural Policy Specialist and a Clean Energy Organizer.

The Agricultural Policy Specialist works with the Water Program Director to ensure the adoption and implementation of appropriate agricultural conservation practices needed to meet water quality standards and ensure the health and safety of Iowa’s water resources.

The Clean Energy Organizer will reach out to targeted Iowa groups to advocate for clean energy solutions during the 2015 Iowa Presidential Caucus campaign process, helping to advance the political debate on clean energy and carbon reduction solutions.

Review job descriptions, required and desired qualification, and learn how to apply on our website.

Home-grown solar reaps opportunities for Iowa

September sunshine provided the perfect backdrop last week for a solar energy tour attended by Congressman David Young and staff for Senator Charles Grassley.

Co-sponsored by the Iowa Environmental Council, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Iowa Solar Trade Association, the tour highlighted innovative businesses in Polk County that are taking advantage of Iowa’s solar energy potential.

The Iowa State Capitol overlooks solar panels on PV panels on the roof of the Market One and its adjacent parking lot canopy. The Market One Building  was designed by Modus Engineering, which has developed Iowa’s first commercial office building with a net-zero design.

The Iowa State Capitol overlooks solar panels on PV panels on the roof of the Market One and its adjacent parking lot canopy, one of the stops on the solar tour. The Market One Building was designed by Modus Engineering, which has developed Iowa’s first commercial office building with a net-zero design.

Stops along the solar tour included:

  • Van Meter, Inc: This wholesale distributor of “automation, electrical, datatcomm, lighting, power transmission and clean energy products and services” (including solar panels and products) also cuts its own energy costs with a 3.5 kW solar installation at its Urbandale facility.
  • Hy-Vee (Urbandale Store): Iowa’s largest private employer is quickly growing its alternative energy installations, with electric vehicle charging stations at 30 of its stores, wind and solar powered light installations at 5 stores, and solar installations at 2 stores, including its Urbandale location.
  • The World Food Prize: The organization’s headquarters prove that modern solar technology can fit seamlessly with historic architecture. Rooftop solar panels installed on the LEED platinum facility save the organization nearly $3,300 each year.
  • Market One Building designed by Modus Engineering: By utilizing PV panels on the roof of the Market One and its adjacent parking lot canopy, MODUS Engineering has developed Iowa’s first commercial office building with a net-zero design. The building produces more power than it consumes, allowing excess power to be used by the utility company and customers on the local grid.

By utilizing home-grown solar energy, these Iowa businesses are keeping valuable jobs and dollars in our state: The solar industry supply chain provides jobs to 900 Iowans and supports nearly 50 Iowa businesses.

Council welcomes communications & development intern

Communications & Development Intern Zoe Muehleip

Communications & Development Intern Zoe Muehleip

The Iowa Environmental is pleased to welcome Zoe Muehleip to its team. Zoe joined the Council in August of 2015, and will serve as a communications and development intern during the 2015 fall semester.

During her internship, Zoe will assist the Communications and Development Departments with an assortment of tasks including creating outreach materials, strengthening social media and event planning.

“I am interested in pursuing a career in sustainable development or environmental advocacy, so I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the Iowa Environmental Council,” Zoe said. “I am particularly interested in water and soil resource management, and look forward to developing a more in-depth understanding of these and other environmental problems, and learning what it takes to advocate for their solutions through an organization.”

Zoe is a senior at Simpson College studying Environmental Science and Graphic Design. Prior to working with the Council, she worked as a research intern at Chiang Mai University’s Forest Restoration Research Unit while studying in Thailand during the spring of 2015. After graduation, Zoe is considering graduate studies in sustainability or further environmental sciences.

“Zoe brings a passion for protecting and preserving our natural resources, as well as a broad understanding of environmental issues and how they affect other aspects of society. That knowledge, combined with her research, writing, design and event experience will be a huge asset to the Council,” said Communications and Outreach Director Katy Heggen.

“Zoe has already proven herself to be motivated, smart, capable and a quick-learner,” said Development Director Jamie Burch “We look forward to working with her to strengthen support for the Council and its mission.”

Step forward for solar energy in Iowa

A proposal that would have hindered access to solar energy has been withdrawn thanks in part to the action of the Council and its allies.

Late Thursday afternoon, Pella Cooperative Electric withdrew a proposal that would have required members with solar panels to pay a fixed charge of $85 month – more than three times the fixed charge for its other members.

Pella Cooperative Electric had cited a “cost-of-service study” conducted earlier this year as the basis for its original proposal. According to the coop, the study concluded members with solar panels were not paying their share of the fixed costs of maintaining the grid. The study, which Pella Cooperative Electric labeled “confidential” and “not subject to distribution”, is unlikely to properly value all of the benefits provided by solar.

“This proposal was never supported by data showing it was needed, in fact, we are confident that solar is bringing value to the coop,” said Energy Program Director Nathaniel Baer. “We hope that this opens the door to a larger discussion of how we can bring more solar to rural electric coops across the state.”

The Council and its allies submitted comments to the Iowa Utilities Board earlier this summer asserting that the proposal violates Iowa Code, which prohibits discrimination against a customer based on the customer’s choice to use renewable energy. These allies include the Environmental Law and Policy Center, Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association, Iowa Interfaith Power & Light, Solar Energy Industries Association, Vote Solar, and Bryce Engbers and Mike Lubberden – two coop members with solar panels.

“Pella Cooperative Electric’s proposed $85 fee was extreme and would have made keeping or installing solar panels infeasible for many of the coop’s members,” Baer said. “Some members ran the numbers and found that despite the savings from the energy their panels produced, the fixed fee would have exceeded those savings, causing them to actually lose money. Utilities around the U.S. have been proposing these unreasonably high fixed charges as one way to stop customers from moving to solar.”

This announcement comes on the heels of Alliant Energy’s recent reversal of its decision to not allow net metering for projects financed with third-party purchase agreements, a practical and popular financing option for solar energy projects. The Council and its allies intervened in this case as well.

We applaud Pella Cooperative Electric and Alliant Energy on their recent decisions to scratch these proposals, and remain committed to continuing to expand and improve access to solar, wind and energy efficiency, and continuing the transition to clean energy in Iowa