Environmental care goes beyond Earth Day for Sioux Center Municipal Utilities. Nearly half of the electricity daily powering Sioux Center homes and businesses comes from renewable resources.
“As a community-owned utility, SCMU was making environmentally-friendly choices before it was cool,” said Utility Manager Murray Hulstein. “We had pioneering, visionary thinkers here who saw a great future in drawing power from federal hydroelectric dams.”
In the early 1950s, Maurice TePaske and Arie Verrips from Sioux Center began pushing for a connection to the power generated at federal dams built as part of the Flood Control Act of 1944.
“Even though it wasn’t the lowest cost power at the time, they saw that fuel costs would go up in the future, while hydro was more a fixed cost,” said Harold Schiebout, former Sioux Center Municipal Utilities manager. “Although environmental focus wasn’t as big of a factor in those days, it was a factor, and it has proved more and more valuable as years went on.”
Today hydropower makes up 26 percent of Sioux Center Municipal Utilities’ power supply mix plus 18 percent from wind power and a small percent of solar, for a total of 44 percent renewable power supply. Comparatively, the national percentage of renewable energy generation is 17 percent.
For a period of time leading up to 1977, all of Sioux Center’s power came from hydroelectric dams, but the community’s growth outpaced the availability of power from the dams.
Sioux Center Municipal Utilities’ energy partner Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) continues to add renewable resources to Sioux Center’s power mix, including a small solar project in 2016 and a new hydroelectric project under construction on the Red Rock dam at Pella. Schiebout, chairman of the MRES board, explained they are pursuing this project because MRES is familiar with hydropower and its benefits– it offers renewable energy with consistent availability, not intermittent availability like solar and wind.
“Caring for the environment continues to be part of decision-making at MRES and in Sioux Center along with reliability and affordability in providing power to our community,” Schiebout said.