Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Governor Adam Gregg joined city officials in Bloomfield Wednesday to celebrate the success of a new solar project. The 1.86-megawatt solar array is one of the largest in Iowa and has the capacity to supply electricity to 10 percent of households in this rural community. The ribbon cutting not only highlights Iowa’s leadership on renewable energy, but also marks significant progress toward Bloomfield’s bold goal to be energy independent by 2030.
“Bloomfield has demonstrated exactly the type of innovative and forward thinking we hoped to foster when we released the Iowa Energy Plan in December 2016,” Gov. Reynolds said. “Iowa’s energy future is bright thanks to efforts like this. I believe by harnessing our state’s natural resources, we can power our economy and our communities.”
The Iowa Energy Plan – a joint effort of the governor’s office, the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) – has been held up by experts as the gold standard. The Bloomfield solar array project, which began operating late last year to qualify for state renewable energy production tax credits, addresses two important objectives of the plan: 1) expansion and diversification of energy resources; and 2) increasing utility-scale energy generation.
“Bloomfield was a proud participant in the development of the Iowa Energy Plan, and now we’re pleased to be playing a role in implementing its recommendations,” Mayor Dan Wiegand said. “In addition to the new solar array, and a number of city and residential energy efficiency projects, we are developing a plan to be energy independent by 2030.”
The community of 2,643 residents in southern Iowa has prioritized becoming a net-zero electric community. For example, thanks to an Operation AmeriCorps grant, Bloomfield has a team of residential energy auditors who help homeowners identify energy efficiency improvements. In addition, 40 percent of homes and all Bloomfield schools have replaced inefficient bulbs as part of the city’s campaign to reduce its carbon footprint.
“I love visiting communities that are taking remarkable steps to improve the quality of life for their citizens,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said. “Especially as we launch the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa initiative, it’s great to see Bloomfield demonstrating you don’t have to be big to think big and act big.”
In 2015, after receiving recommendations from both the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities and energy consultants, Bloomfield decided to pursue 100 percent energy self-sufficiency via renewable energy sources. The development of the city’s energy independence plan and its associated consultant services are being funded by an IEDA Community Development Block Grant Technical Assistance award of $100,000.
In addition to Gov. Reynolds, Lt. Governor Gregg and Mayor Wiegand, the ceremonial ribbon-cutting included remarks by School Board Director for Davis County Schools Rod Lynch and Bloomfield City Administrator Gary Boden.