Energy efficiency comes naturally to electric cooperatives. The not-for-profit business model encourages cooperatives to use all cost-effective methods of distributing electricity efficiently as possible.

One out of seven people served by cooperatives lives below the federal poverty line. These member-consumers often can see striking reductions in energy usage when aggressive energy-efficiency measures are applied. Conversely, their incomes often do not allow them to make the needed investments even in simple efficiency tools and techniques. Cooperatives know that rising costs of new generation resources mean that efficiency is often the least-cost generation resource.

Cooperatives are recognized as industry leaders in deployment of advanced meters and demand response. Cooperatives also have made a dramatic contribution to energy-efficient electric system operation through developing MultiSpeak, a software standard that lets meters, consumer databases and utility plant data “talk” to one another, helping boost service reliability and reducing waste.

The overarching strategy of cooperatives’ energy-efficiency programs is to ensure that member-consumers have access to cost-effective, energy-efficiency programs that help member-consumers better manage their electricity consumption and also are beneficial to the environment. To that end, the cooperatives:

  • Work toward making sure every kilowatt or kilowatt-hour of electricity generated is used in the most efficient manner possible
  • Work to maintain or enhance the productivity level and comfort level of our member-consumers while using energy wisely and efficiently
  • Work to improve Iowa’s indoor and outdoor air quality
  • Work to promote the use of new energy-efficient technologies
  • Work to deliver electricity at a competitive price
  • Work to preserve existing energy sources to provide for future generations
  • Work toward less dependence on foreign energy

Iowa’s electric cooperatives recently submitted a Joint Energy-Efficiency Report with the Iowa Utilities Board required by SF 2386, passed by the 2008 Iowa General Assembly. Electric cooperatives across Iowa, from this assessment, have established a robust set of cost-effective, energy-efficiency programs available for their member-consumers to participate in during the five-year period of 2010-2014. In the next five years, Iowa’s electric cooperatives plan on investing $71.5 million on new and existing energy-efficiency programs for homes, farms and businesses in their service areas. According to the report, the $14 million average annual investment in energy-efficiency programs between 2010 and 2014 is a 30-percent increase compared to the last report filed July 1, 2008, with the Iowa Utilities Board. That report showed that in 2007, electric co-ops invested approximately $10.8 million in energy-efficiency programs.