History made as Des Moines adopts 24/7 carbon-free energy resolution, becoming first in nation

posted on Monday, January 11, 2021 in Energy News

DES MOINES -- Tonight, the Des Moines City Council voted (unanimously) to adopt an ambitious city-wide clean energy resolution. The resolution's passage makes Des Moines the first city in Iowa to commit to 100%, 24/7 clean energy and adds the city to the list of more than 170 nationwide that have enacted 100% clean energy goals.  

EV Charging Station Under Solar Installation "We are proud of the leadership demonstrated by the Council and Mayor tonight in making Des Moines the first city in the U.S. to commit to 24/7 clean energy," said IEC's Energy Program Director Kerri Johannsen. "That means no coal, no fracked gas, and no fossil fuels in the electricity delivered to Des Moines residents by 2035. This goal puts us on the right path to address the challenges of climate change – it is both aggressive and achievable, and will help Des Moines attract and retain sustainability-minded businesses and residents."   

The resolution's objectives put Des Moines on track to uphold emission reduction recommendations outlined by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These targets are echoed in the Paris Climate Agreement, which Mayor Cownie pledged to uphold following the United States’ withdrawal in 2017.   

The unique language in the resolution, however, sets Des Moines apart from other cities with carbon-neutral pledges, by instead calling for the city to reach 24/7 carbon-free electricity by 2035. This requires the energy sourced to the city to be from clean energy like solar and wind, around-the-clock, rather than the mix of energy from both fossil fuels and renewable sources that is available today. This will also result in the adoption of technologies to manage, reduce, and store clean energy resources. 

Since the proposal's introduction earlier this fall by Councilmember Josh Mandelbaum, the resolution has received broad local support, with more than 600 residents and over 40 Des Moines-based businesses and organizations signing on in support of the goal. 

"Meeting these clean energy goals will benefit the entire city. That is why we’ve seen a diverse Broadcast of the City Council Meeting on 1/11/21coalition of residents, community groups, and local business leaders voice support for the commitment," said Jordan Oster, 100% Iowa Team Lead and Energy Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator with the Iowa Environmental Council. "After working several months with our partners to educate and advocate for a 100% goal, it is exciting to see Des Moines move forward and see a larger role in reducing emissions." 

To meet the ambitious 24/7 carbon-free energy goal by 2035, the City Manager's Office will coordinate with community stakeholders such as utility partners, stakeholders, residents, and businesses to establish benchmarking metrics to help monitor progress. The goal will also help shape key deliverables that will be established in the city's Climate Action Plan, for which the planning process is expected to commence in early 2021.

About The Author

From 2020 - 2024, Kristen Weaverling worked with the Council as an Energy and Climate Project Manager.

Before starting at IEC, she spent several years implementing energy efficiency programs for small business customers on behalf of utility companies here in Iowa. She also has a background in the nonprofit sector, having served as a volunteer manager for an international nonprofit as well as completing a term with AmeriCorps in eastern Iowa. Kristen holds a B.S. in Geography from The University of Iowa along with certificates in both Sustainability and Human Rights.