Resolution for CLEAR Policy

Whereas, Minnesotans still believe in and agree with the spirit or the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015…

Whereas, the economic and labor growth potential for such a robust mobilization to successfully reorder our energy, building, transportation, health and resource sectors is so great that we cannot afford to pass up this challenge and must rise to this opportunity…

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An Entertaining Guide to bringing the CLEAR Resolution at Precinct Caucuses

Written by Marcus Mills from Community Power:

 

The CLEAR Resolution provides principles and political goals for Minnesota’s energy and environmental future.  It is based on work by Community Power, in coalition with allies operating around the state, to develop a legislative package we’re calling the Clean Local Equitable Affordable Reliable (CLEAR) Bill.  

 

Think of the CLEAR Bill as the highlights of the energy, environment, equity, justice, labor, community wealth-building, community empowerment, local freedom and plant community preservation conversations that we’ve been having between governments (large and small), regulators, utilities, polluters, unions and the green movement for decades.  

 

*** First an important note: Every caucus has a protocol for resolutions.  Perhaps they require them sent in ahead of time, in writing, or maybe there is a specific form they must be presented on, that you have to look up beforehand.  Often you have to turn in a written copy and then present it, in which case it might be a good idea to keep a copy for yourself.  And, most importantly, since this is a matter of conviction and exposure as much as anything else: bring copies to share with your neighbors. ***

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2019 Year in Review

In 2019 Community Power alongside coalition partners have: 

  • Launched a statewide climate justice policy conversation, aiming to craft a model 100% renewable energy bill around the concepts of Clean, Local, Equitable, Affordable, and Reliable energy; known as the “CLEAR“ bill.
  • Supported partner organization Cooperative Energy Futures to launch 3 cooperatively-owned solar gardens in St. Cloud, Janesville, and Minneapolis, subscribing 81 households, 10 small businesses, 3 places of worship, and 2 cooperatives collectively saving ~$1,365,000 in electricity costs over the next 25 years; 
  • Secured a landmark feasibility analysis of Inclusive Energy Financing in Minnesota, released by the UMN in August 2019. http://energytransition.umn.edu/projects/inclusive-finance-for-residential-efficiency/; When it becomes an operating program, Inclusive Financing will be a tool to reduce financial and property ownership barriers to energy efficiency and rooftop solar, thus allowing low-income and low-credit residents to access lower energy bills 
  • Co-facilitated monthly conversations among twelve neighborhood and community organizations in the metro area, specifically focusing on how to create low-income and renter-focused efficiency resources; 
  • Activated community members against Xcel Energy’s proposed acquisition of a fracked gas plant, a purchase that the Public Utilities Commission unanimously rejected in a 5-0 vote on September 27th; 
  • Participated in several Public Utilities Commission comment processes to push the discussion and outcomes toward equity, access, and community-ownership including in energy utilities’ 15-year plans, conservation programming, and electric vehicle plans 
  • Led the small effort to restore $350,000 in the Minneapolis City Budget for the Clean Energy Franchise fee enabled programs out of what would have been a $590,000 shortfall from the 2019 budget.

Saint Paul Approves Climate Plan and Resolution

From Elizabeth Dickinson, 

"On Wednesday, December 18th the St. Paul City Council passed two pieces of business critical to St. Paul’s energy future.  First, it it unanimously passed a St. Paul 350 resolution opposing Xcel ’s proposal for a new fracked gas energy plant in their 15 year plan, and also committing St. Paul to providing ongoing commentary to the Public Utilities Commission and legislature on Xcel’s activities.  

Second, the St. Paul City Council unanimously approved the city’s first Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP), along with some citizen-sponsored amendments to strengthen it, including wording to support Inclusive Financing, community solar and stricter benchmarking standards.  
Feedback offered during public testimony backed up the amendments. Additional desires expressed were for more robust measurements, quicker deadlines to achieve results, stronger commitment to equity and public processes, including formation of a citizen advisory group. Saint Paul City Council President Amy Brendmoen called CARP a living document that would be expanded upon with increasing community input."

My Commentary on Xcel's 15 Year Plan

      *** Example Commentary on Xcel's 15 Year Plan - Opinions expressed are my own, Delivered in the October 21st, 2019 public hearing. Since that time, we have learned that Xcel will refile its plan on April 1st, 2020, opening up another round of public commentary on that date.  *** 

 

Thank You for giving me the opportunity to speak today on this important issue of Xcel’s plans for our energy future. 

 

The part about Xcel’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that I can’t quite get beyond is that it estimates such an alarmingly low amount of new additional distributed rooftop and community solar, flatlining at just 20-25 MW per year from 2021 through 2034. For comparison, we had more than 200 MW of distributed and community solar added in 2018 alone. 

 

In Xcel’s May 20th stakeholder meeting, the company explained that this steep drop-off was due to “market conditions”. But that can’t be true because the actual market is a monopoly with trade secrets that shelter their assumptions. 

 

Last Thursday (Oct 17th), I asked this same question to one of Xcel’s lobbyists who is active at the state capitol about why Xcel’s IPR predicted such a steep drop-off. He responded that Xcel is legally obligated to add on new community solar projects. But he evaded my question by not acknowledging how Xcel’s IRP projects quashing this current momentum by between 90%- 97% in coming years and how that doesn’t reflect continuation of Xcel having to accept new Community Solar.  

 

Given that response, these low estimates can only make sense to me if Xcel privately assumes that future lobbying efforts at the state Capitol to end Minnesota’s Community Solar program will actually be successful.

 

The PUC should instead both expect and support an accelerated scale-up of community-based clean energy because it has strong consumer interest with organized groups committed to making it happen.

 

 

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