Bringing awareness to our county’s energy burden

In February, we (the CCED) hosted an Energy Burden Relief Open House + Listening Post at Keystone AEA in Elkader. The event assembled community leaders, elected officials, energy experts, and county residents to bring awareness to Clayton County’s energy burden and to share energy burden relief resources and tools.

An energy burden rate is calculated by dividing annual utility bills by annual income. A rate of 6% or more is considered a high energy burden. CCED examined energy burden rates in Clayton County using the US Department of Energy’s Low Income Data Affordability Tool and found 48% of Clayton County residents experience energy burdens higher than 6%; however, the county’s poorest residents pay the most for energy as a percentage of income.

During the Energy Burden Relief Open House + Listening Post, key conversations occurred around the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) incentives, which includes tax credits for home energy improvements (heat pump air and water heaters, electrical panel upgrades, windows, and doors), tax credits for renewable energy installations (solar arrays, wind generators, battery storage, and geothermal) and support for other clean energy projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Clayton County’s 600 lowest-income households use well over 20% of their annual income for home energy costs. These poor households are often energy inefficient and use higher-cost heating fuels like propane and less efficient resistive electric heat. The IRA incentives can help relieve these excessive energy burden rates at a reduced cost to deploy these clean energy strategies in their homes. 

The resources shared at the open house are providing Clayton County residents an opportunity to better understand the options they have to lower their energy use and save money. It’s a win-win for the natural resources and residents of Clayton County.


The open house also facilitated solid professional networking among the room’s clean energy and workforce experts, which included representatives from Clean Energy Districts of Iowa, Iowa Workforce Development, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Northeast Iowa Community College and Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission. Because of this networking, the CCED is partnering with Northeast Iowa Community College and Iowa Workforce Development to host a roundtable event in April to further discuss clean energy workforce gaps and pathways.