At a time when other businesses in Iowa were retrenching and reducing their payrolls, the state’s electric cooperatives, were showing significant signs of growth during 2009, according to the latest Economic Impact Study released today by the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.

For example, the payrolls, purchases and deliveries of services by electric cooperatives resulted in a $1.2 billion impact throughout the state’s economy. Compared to previous studies, that’s a 48 percent increase since 2006 and a 95 percent increase compared to 2003.

The association commissioned the first Economic Impact Study in 2003 – and the second in 2006 – to measure the economic influence of the state’s electric cooperatives on the lives and well being of rural Iowans.

The study revealed these key findings:

  • Since 1989, Iowa’s electric cooperatives have invested a total of almost $98 million in loans and grants, resulting in the completion of local projects – such as spec buildings, parks, factories, clinics and hospitals – worth $928 million. “Access Energy Cooperative has developed a Revolving Loan Fund through such projects worth over $1 million to loan out to other economic development projects,” said Bob Swindell, General Manager/CEO of Access Energy Cooperative.
  • Iowa’s electric cooperatives contributed more than $10 million to community programs during 2009. Co-ops were the local investors that provided a helping hand for projects ranging from creating scholarships and supporting schools to promoting tourism and building industrial parks. “At Access Energy Cooperative, concern for community is one of our founding principles,” said Swindell. “Not only did we grant three $500 scholarships to area high school seniors and sponsored two students on an educational and fun trip to Washington DC, our employees volunteered for projects such as helping put up lights in area ball fields and assisting Harmony School with energy efficiency projects that will save them money.”
  • Compared to the previous year, the number of privately owned renewable electric generation facilities­—wind, solar and methane recovery­—interconnected to electric cooperative lines more than doubled during 2009. The total generation capability of these installations is 7.5 megawatts—enough electricity to power about 1,700 homes for at least a year. “We assisted members with interconnecting their solar and wind projects to the cooperative’s lines,” said Swindell.
  • Iowa’s electric cooperatives have developed a five-year plan to invest $71.5 million in energy-efficiency programs for homes, farms and businesses across the state. The $14 million average annual investment for 2010 through 2014 is a 30 percent increase over the amount for 2008. “Our energy-efficiency programs range from rebates to energy efficiency education,” said Swindell.

“The investments electric cooperatives make—and the benefits they provide—stay in our local communities,” continued Bob. “Iowa’s electric cooperatives and Access Energy Cooperative will be important contributors to the vitality of Iowa’s economy for many years to come.”