Energy Crawl- Lessons Learned

The third annual Dubuque County Energy Crawl took place on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. Leaders from Dubuque County joined together to learn about feature projects including:

-The Habitat for Humanity low-income solar project

-NICC’s Energy Efficiency Updates

-The City of Peosta’s Power of Purchase agreement with Eagle Point Solar

-Fighting for Local Efficiency Codes

-Small Businesses on Efficient and Clean Energy

This project aimed to bring local leaders together to discuss key topics around those who are often last on the energy transition. By showcasing these initiatives, we discussed the importance of leveraging public and private partners to reimagine our energy market, and build local energy for all. Each of these lessons just scratched the surface at Dubuque County’s ability to lead the way for 100% clean, efficient and renewable energy for all by 2050. Here are their stories.

In partnership with Habitat for Humanity, your Dubuque County Energy District sparked a focus to increase low-to-moderate income household’s access to solar generation. The initial project, located on 22nd Street, features a 5.6 kW array. With the successful installation of this project, the City of Dubuque launched the Renew Dbq low-to-moderate income solar project to reach neighbors within the Urban Renewal District. This project looks to build a sustainable model for Iowa’s first Solar Renewable Energy Certificate program by first reaching those with the highest energy burdens.

For a total of 406 kW (DC), the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the City of Peosta and Eagle Point Solar makes cents (literally) for municipalities to transition to clean energy generation.

Peosta previously paid an average rate of $0.125/kWh to Alliant between their seven city facilities. With the PPA, which generates local solar energy, the rate decreases by 29% to $0.085/kWh.

The purchase of the solar array for the City of Peosta, which as a municipality takes them out of qualifying for tax credits and depreciation, would have cost $913,275. The PPA decreased the demand for an upfront cost by using a business eligible for tax incentives.

In 2007, NICC passed a bond to expand and grow the abilities for student services. Along this process, the bond allowed $35M to be reinvested into physical structures and building expansions. NICC’s Peosta campus serves as an example for institutions looking to grow in size and sustainability.

This feature project can aid in institutional growth in sustainability and finding ways to save on energy related expenses. The energy savings also paved way to providing a cleaner air ventilation system, which is ever important to reduce the spread of viruses.

Efficiency Measures taken include:

  • Increased insulation at exterior walls from R15.6 to R20
  • Increased insulation at roof from R25 to R30, on average
  • Energy efficient glazing at exterior
  • Reduced lighting power density
  • New energy efficient air-cooled chiller added to the existing system for additional capacity
  • Three high efficiency condensing boilers replacing the existing boilers
  • New pumps with variable frequency drives
  • Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) water cooled system for majority of project
  • Dedicated outside air systems (DOAS) serving ventilation air to the spaces served by the VRF system; DOAS fans are equipped with VFD’s on the fans
  • Domestic hot water is created from the high efficiency condensing boilers via a water-to-water heat exchanger

Preliminary analysis showed the following savings:

  • Energy Cost Savings 17%
  • Electrical Demand Savings 14%
  • Electrical Consumption Savings 14%
  • Gas Consumption Savings 23%

We must find ways to reduce our demand of energy just as equally as switching to clean and local energy generation. Businesses, like NICC qualifies under, will find a rate increase of 17% (as it is currently proposed) for their gas bills. When looking at the energy spending, while we are seeing the demand on gas is decreasing, the net spending will only decrease by around 6%.

When budgeting for upcoming years, businesses are most impacted by the proposed rate increase and need to take extra measures to ensure they are at the least keeping bills stagnant. If businesses do not find ways to reduce their demand, they must find ways to budget 17% more for gas increases.

Sharing stories of proactive sustainability aids in the success of businesses. Period.