In just a few short years, Community Power has transformed the relationship between Twin Cities communities and the energy utilities that serve them. We have a long way to go to achieve a clean, local, equitable, affordable, and reliable energy system, but we're making lots of progress:
- In 2013, we built Minneapolis Energy Options, a powerful grassroots campaign to keep Minneapolis's energy options open by exploring formation of a city utility as the city's 20-year franchise agreements with Xcel and CenterPoint neared expiration. We secured strong city council support, brought the utilities to the table, and laid the foundation for our big wins in 2014. Read more about our early wins here.
- In 2014, we organized to secure the nation's first Clean Energy Partnership, a new decision-making structure of city and utility leaders with strong community input, and to establish shorter term franchise agreements that will help keep Xcel and CenterPoint accountable to real action. We also fought back the threat of a budget cut to the partnership.
- In 2015, Community Power helped guide the launch of the Clean Energy Partnership and the Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC) that advises it to make sure that the key elements of our 2-year work plan get implemented. We also helped the EVAC influence the set of metrics which the Partnership Board approved to evaluate the eventual success of the Clean Energy Partnership. In response to our "IRP comment" campaign, Xcel Energy specifically acknowledged the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership goals on page 15 in their long term business plan, thus validating our vision and analysis. In the same filing, Xcel Energy set a timetable to retire Sherco coal units 1 & 2 and promise a 60% greenhouse gas reductions by 2030. Community Power organized a street theatre action next to Xcel Energy’s downtown office on November 9th calling attention to Xcel’s slow pace in approving community solar garden projects applications. Xcel responded to our presence by becoming more transparent about their approval process and accelerated the number of projects approved from 5 to 46 by mid-December.
- On October 14th, 2015, the Partnership launched its Building Energy Challenge program to encourage energy efficiency improvements among various types of commercial buildings.
- On October 15th, 2015, Xcel filed a strategic system-wide plan to retrofit their existing streetlight fixtures with LED lights over the next 5 years. Mayor Betsy Hodges has allocated $400,000 in her 2016 budget proposal for LED streetlight conversions and got close to 75% that amount in the final budget. Community Power staff spoke at the 2016 Minneapolis City budget hearing, once again connecting racial equity with clean energy and helped to save $100,000 from being cut to the LED streetlight budget. The City will work with Xcel on an implementation timetable identifying priority areas for streetlight retrofits.
- In the fall of 2015, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy have jointly launched a streamlined multi-family building energy efficiency program. Energy users who pay utility bills to both Xcel and Centerpoint will now have a single point of contact for whole building energy efficiency opportunities and audits.
- In September 2015, the City of Minneapolis bought down the usual $70 cost of Home Energy Squad® visits and started offering them for free to income qualified residents though fliers sent out in municipal water bills. As an additional measure to encourage energy efficiency improvements in the residential sector, the City had also offered no-interest financing for any home insulation and air sealing upgrades recommended by the Home Energy Squad visits.