Restore $600,000 for Climate Priorities in Minneapolis 2020 Budget

Background:

A Minneapolis City Council will vote on Dec. 2nd to declare a "climate emergency" but are they investing enough in the solution?

 

We need your help to make sure the city adequately funds

the emergency response to climate change

 

Investment Pays Off...

Two years ago, the city council voted to raise the franchise fee on electric and gas utility bills to fund equitable climate work. For example, the city's Green Cost Share program has leveraged $28 million in private spending to reduce energy bills of Minneapolis residents and businesses by a projected $40 million. That's a 10:1 savings compared to the less than $4 million in city funds spent over the past several years.

 

...So Why Back Off in the Face of an Emergency?

The 2020 budget proposes cutting its climate mitigation budget by nearly 20 percent, close to $600,000, by shifting pre-2017 money for the Sustainability Office and other clean energy initiatives into the bucket funded by the franchise fee increase. It cuts funds for climate innovation by using them to pay for things the city was already funding. The funding going toward climate work currently is a drop in the bucket compared to the climate crisis we face and the scale of investment needed to shelter communities in the city from the worst harms ahead, and do so with equity at the center.

 

A Climate Emergency Requires an Emergency Response––to Increase Funding to Fight Climate Change

Please ask your city council member to propose increasing the climate budget to meet the emergency, by raising the funds to be designated by the Energy Vision Advisory Committee and the Sustainability Office by $1 million. Members of the Energy Vision Advisory Committee are recommending the city use these funds to boost the Green Cost Share program, test innovative energy efficiency programs that make it easy for low-income folks to cut energy bills (called inclusive financing), and build the clean energy workforce the city needs to face the climate challenge.

 

We need your help to make sure Minneapolis stays in the climate fight!

 

What you can do: 

 

Call your city council member and submit a comment to the budget process. Doing this early is more impactful, and showing up to the budget hearings on Dec 4 or 11 (especially the 4th; both 6-8pm at City Council chambers, best to get there/sign up early) would also be a great help. Please share this if you can with other folks who might be concerned about this as well! 

 

You can find your ward and CM's phone # here: http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council/maps/about_maps_ward-finder

 

And you can submit written comments (seen by full council) here – good to do additionally if you have a second: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/budget/budget-comments

 

Other budget issues going on that people are turning out for to consider supporting:

-- Reclaim The Block - community safety and funding for community needs and

de-escalation: https://www.facebook.com/events/531954867352952/

-- Trans equity position: https://www.facebook.com/events/749686772124993/

-- South Minneapolis Public Safety Coalition – community safety and livability: https://www.ppna.org/smpsc



Sample Script:

 

Hi, my name is ---- and I’m a constituent in the --- neighborhood.

 

I wanted to ask Councilmember --- to restore full funding to the sustainability and climate work to fulfill the city’s commitment to climate action work that saves Minneapolis residents and businesses money and energy. I’ve recently become aware that there is $600,000 missing from this budget for 2020. In times of a climate emergency, we need this money restored and another million for funding a real inclusive financing program, workforce development priorities and the Green Cost Share program.

 

I also ask that the city be more transparent with its budget in general and that you take the work of EVAC and other commissions seriously by centering co-creation, not commentary after the fact.

 

I also wanted to take this opportunity to say that I support the asks of Reclaim the Block, the South Minneapolis Public Safety Coalition, and the ask for the Trans Equity position ( ---- or add in others that you care about).

 

Thanks so much for your time.

 

 

 

With gratitude and solidarity,
Community Power 

Communitypowermn.org 


St. Paul Ward 6 Candidate Forum on Energy Democracy

      Many thanks to the Saint Paul Branch of MN350.org for hosting the Ward 6 Energy Democracy Forum on Oct. 1 at the Arlington Hills Community Center. 

St. Paul 350 are grassroots volunteers committed to ending the pollution that is damaging communities and climate, and for speeding the transition to clean energy, while creating a just and healthy future for all of us. As more of our neighbors seek ways to respond to the climate crisis, St. Paul 350 has begun to organize meaningful actions for us to take together.
Ward 6 is the only open Saint Paul City Council race without an incumbent running for re-election. 
At the forum, there were 4 prepared questions read by two moderators from Ward 6, Patricia Enstad and Mike Hirabayashi. Also included were audience questions and closing statements.
Similar to Community Power's Minneapolis work in 2017, being in good communication with the forum participants ahead of time doubled as candidate education on topics including:
  • The St. Paul Climate Action and Resilience Plan—in particular pages. 16-24 for information about how climate change is affecting St. Paul communities
  • A Platform Vision on Climate Justice & Energy Democracy—prepared by the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy
  • Draft Resolution on the City of St. Paul’s relationship with Xcel Energy—This was valuable in providing a future Council Member background information about what the St. Paul 350 team is working on.

 

Watch the video at the link below: 

Read more

MN PUC rejects Xcel's Mankato Gas Plant Proposal

 Xcel Energy has come under heavy fire from state regulators at the Department of Commerce as well as the State Attorney General's office for inaccurate, misleading modelling to justify a proposal that would increase greenhouse gas emissions while increasing costs to Minnesota ratepayers.

Xcel Energy had been crafting its 15-year "Integrated Resource Plan" around an assumption that it would acquire the already existing natural gas plant from Southern Company, known as the Mankato Energy Center (MEC). It got to the point where Xcel was working to get its proposal approved by regulators outside of the designated IRP process. Back in May, several large environmental groups made a partial settlement with Xcel to not oppose the MEC acquisition in exchange for closure dates on coal power plants in the IRP (which probably would have been coming anyway). That gave the Xcel's proposal so much momentum that it made it seem inevitable that Xcel would get Minnesota ratepayers to pay $650 million for this purchase of an existing natural gas plant. But then, Xcel Energy's recent proposal came to a hearing on Friday, September 27th at the MN Public Utilities Commission, which has the official role as the guardians of the public interest.  The PUC ultimately decided not to give Xcel Energy permission to charge Minnesotans for an expensive natural gas plant through 2059. The proposal was denied on in a 5-0 vote.

    The plant was slated to operate through 2059 - which is long past the deadlines when we need to have moved beyond natural gas - and where an early shutdown would have posed an extra cost to Minnesota energy users.

At the hearing, a spokesperson from argued why they should be able to use Minnesotans' money to bankroll the highly priced gas plant and risks decades of volatile fuel costs and locking in emissions from fracking plus the debt involved for the next 40 years. 

There was even a competing natural gas power plant operator who identified ways in which Xcel was proposing to pay extra (at Minnesota ratepayers expense) while rejecting a cheaper natural gas resource.

And we had some fun with it during as seen in our video here: https://www.facebook.com/MinneapolisEnergyOptions/videos/715118825632535/    and with the Live Tweets:  https://twitter.com/MplsEnergyOpts 

The Commissioners rejected Xcel's preferred proposal as not in the interest of Xcel customers over its cost, a view shared by Citizens Utility Board (CUB), the Office of the Attorney General and some of Xcel's large industrial customers.    

 

See the story covered by Elizabeth Dunbar at Minnesota Public Radio News here

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Minnesota and the Volkswagen Settlement Fact Sheet

From 2009 to 2016, Volkswagen cheated on emissions tests. In 2016, they were forced to pay $2.9 billion into a trust for states, tribes, and Puerto Rico to mitigate the environmental damage they caused. Minnesota’s share of that settlement is $47 million, which will be spent over three phases and administered by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The settlement allows money to be spent in two ways: reducing emissions from diesel vehicles and expanding electric charging infrastructure.

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Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership lays out next steps forward for Inclusive Financing

At the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership board meeting on June 17th, all parties of the Partnership (Xcel, Centerpoint and the City of Minneapolis) unanimously agreed to a motion that laid out a path forward for an Inclusive Financing Pilot project in or around Minneapolis.

The Inclusive Financing board motion “reaffirms the partnership’s commitment to explore in good faith and Inclusive Financing pilot program that provides a reasonably beneficial service to customers”. It also outlined a list of key features for the pilot program as well as a list of next action steps for the partners (Xcel, Centerpoint and Minneapolis Partnership) to take this year.  

This is treading new ground.

Currently existing inclusive financing programs around the nation have originated under rural electric cooperatives who serve much smaller constituencies than Xcel and Centerpoint. The East Central Co-Op in Minnesota had already implemented a program that is similar to PAYS.

 There is no precedent for Investor Owned Utilities making Inclusive Financing available voluntarily or for an Inclusive Financing program that serves urban areas.

 

Read more


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