The Winneshiek Energy District (WED) leads, implements, and accelerates the locally-owned, inclusive, clean energy transition in northeast Iowa’s Winneshiek County. Andy Johnson, executive director of the WED, has been a tireless advocate of efforts to make energy conservation a part of life in Winneshiek County and adjacent communities for more than 10 years. Johnson brings a down-to-earth, quiet resolve in his tireless leadership of a “movement” to champion locally led, clean energy efforts across the Midwest. He applied his education in ecology and natural resources management with the Peace Corps in Guatemala and worked toward sustainable agriculture with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Johnson returned to his hometown of Decorah and became the founding Director of the WED in 2010. His leadership helped to inspire 10 energy districts in Iowa and Wisconsin. Groups in Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota have also formed to pursue Energy Districts.
A notable, long-term effort has delivered efficiency and helped build the next generation of energy professionals through the Green Iowa AmeriCorps (GIA) program (part of the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education). At the local level, he’s been a key part of a regular energy breakfast series to inform the local community about energy issues and opportunities. To extend their outreach, Johnson has told the story of WED and energy as a contributor in local publications. Today, Johnson continues to serve as WED Executive Director and took the parallel position as Executive Director of the newly formed Clean Energy Districts of Iowa (CEDI) in 2019.