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Iowa Energy Center Board awards $2.8 million in energy grants

The Iowa Energy Center (IEC) awarded $2.8 million in grants to 12 projects at a board meeting earlier this month in Des Moines.

“Out of an exceptional group of applicants, the Iowa Energy Center Board is proud to lend grant support to this round of projects, each of which addresses an energy need or opportunity in an innovative way,” said Board Chair Troy DeJoode of the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities. “This year’s grant recipients span the public and private sector and represent a diverse mix of energy resources, creating an individual and collective positive impact on Iowa’s energy economy.”

The grants will fund 12 projects including:

  • Developing a pilot-scale business model for monetizing carbon capture on solar energy farms
  • AI-assisted robotic mapping of underground infrastructure
  • Repurposing used batteries for resilient grid storage

A total of 37 projects completed the full application with requests totaling over $10 million. Applications were reviewed and scored by a committee comprised of IEC board members. Scoring rubric was based on alignment with the Iowa Energy Plan, the ratepayer benefit provided, project goals, programmatic capabilities of the applicant and collaboration efforts with other eligible applicants, among other criteria.

A full list of the IEC Grant Program recipients is available below:

Grant TitleApplicant OrganizationRequest
GIS tool to plan mitigation and recovery of gridlines under natural hazards to improve resiliencyIowa State University$235,551
Driving Electric in Rural NE Iowa: An Analysis, Planning, Workforce, and Major Employer PartnershipWinneshiek Energy District$171,235
Developing a Pilot-Scale Business Model for Monetizing Carbon Capture on Solar Energy Farms.Impact 7G$297,000
Advanced 3D optical sensing and peening technologies for crack mitigation in natural gas pipelinesIowa State University$255,472
Mobile Power for Rural Wastewater Treatment and Community ResilienceBaldridge Environmental Services$122,500
From the Landfill to the Grid: Repurposing Used Batteries for Resilient Grid StorageIowa State University$294,859
Artificial Intelligence-Assisted Robotic Mapping of Underground InfrastructureIowa State University$300,000
Control and Coordination of Solar + Storage for Enhanced ResiliencyIowa State University$283,500
Electrical Energy from EthanolUniversity of Iowa$417,137
Modeling Solar Radiation Potential and Urban Heat Utilizing Mobile Sensors and Topographic DataUniversity of Northern Iowa$170,370
Building Enclosure Council of Iowa ProgramsBuilding Enclosure Council of Iowa$27,800
Micro-DERMS: DERMS for Real-time Monitoring & Control of Mobile-Microgrids and DER Distribution GridIowa State University$300,000
Iowa Energy Center Board awards $2.8 million in energy grants | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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