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Des Moines Council Adopts Clean Energy Goals

City Hall in downtown Des Moines
Grant Gerlock
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie told the City Council last night that the city has felt the impact of climate change through extreme weather events such as floods and drought.

The city of Des Moines has set new climate goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to use only carbon-free electricity.

A resolution passed by the Des Moines City Council Monday sets a goal to use “100 percent 24x7 electricity from carbon-free sources” community-wide by the year 2035. It also directs city staff to work toward cutting total greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent over the next decade and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Mayor Frank Cownie said the city has felt the impact of climate change through extreme weather events such as floods and drought, and must do more to cut emissions locally.

“We need to play a bigger role in sustainability, mitigation and adaptation,” Cownie said. “This goal is a huge step in that direction.”

According to the Sierra Club, Des Moines joins more than 170 cities in the U.S. that have adopted 100 percent renewable energy targets including Minneapolis, St. Louis and Kansas City.

Council member Josh Mandelbaum said he hopes more towns and cities follow Des Moines’ example to push electric utilities to move away from fossil fuels.

“We need communities across this country to adopt more stringent targets and 24/7, 100 percent renewable goals going forward,” Mandelbaum said.

To meet its goals, the city will have to work with power provider MidAmerican Energy. The company says it currently generates enough renewable power — mostly by wind — to meet 61 percent of customer demand and estimates that number could reach 83 percent this year.

Environmental advocates are urging MidAmerican to make greater investments in renewables and close its remaining coal plants in Iowa.