The City of Waterloo committed to using only renewable energy sources citywide by 2035, only the fourth city in the US to pledge to do so.
The resolution, which notes the city will achieve 24/7 carbon-free electricity, passed unanimously during Monday night’s meeting.
“It is easy to fall into climate nihilism—that the problem is ‘too big,'” said council member Jonathan Grieder, who first pushed for the measure in April. “I don’t believe that, because cities like ours are stepping up and doing the right thing.”
Waterloo, at a population of 67,671, is also the second-biggest city on the list to pledge. It joins Des Moines (population 215,408), as well as Ithaca, New York (30,715) and South Lake Tahoe, California (22,535), in adopting it.
To achieve it, Waterloo will adopt several measures, including replacing all city vehicles with electric models, installing charging stations and capturing the biogas from its wastewater treatment plants, things that are already in the works. It will also work with business and residents to cut down their use of electricity.
But it’s also dependent on a similar pledge by the city’s electricity provider, MidAmerican Energy, to go 100% renewable by that time.
In 2021, MidAmerican was at 88.5% renewable, according to the Iowa Utilities Board. If MidAmerican’s new wind and solar project is approved this fall, the company says it is on track to reach 100% statewide by 2025.
Grieder said the city was working closely with MidAmerican on the pledge, noting both entities believed it was doable.
“Waterloo is going to step up to the plate,” Grieder said. “We know the climate is changing; the science is 100% clear. … It is a problem we are living with right now.”
Residents also noted their support for the resolution, mentioning climate change and extreme weather as reasons to adopt.
Larry Stumme said he thought the resolution was “extremely important,” noting the dire warnings from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“I think it’s about time we act, and I commend you for what you have done,” he said, noting he hoped the city would soon purchase more electric vehicles.
Jordan Oster, energy outreach coordinator for the Iowa Environmental Council, also voiced his organization’s support Monday.
“With delay in state and federal efforts to take on the sizable challenge of climate change, you are showing how cities can speed up the transition away from fossil fuels,” Oster said. “Your example can inspire more Iowa cities to do the same.”
By Amie Rivers
Iowa Starting Line is part of an independent news network and focuses on how state and national decisions impact Iowans’ daily lives. We rely on your financial support to keep our stories free for all to read. You can contribute to us here. Follow us on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.