Minneapolis' energy future: What will our options be?

By Cam Gordon, as Published in the Twin Cities Daily Planet Community Voices

7/26/13 

 

Introduction

The City of Minneapolis has adopted aggressive goals for dealing with the most pressing environmental problem of our time, global climate change. But our current electricity provider is not doing enough to help Minneapolis residents and businesses to reduce our energy use and increase the percentage of our energy we get from clean, renewable energy sources. They are continuing to raise rates even as consumption falls, and those rates are going in part into questionable investments in outdated nuclear plants, private jets and corporate profit. Reliability is not improving, and the electrical grid is more sensitive to external shocks than it needs to be.

It would be irresponsible for us not to seize this moment to put our energy economy on a different path, either by improving the behavior of our existing utilities or by forming one of our own. Other cities have their own energy utilities, and by and large they do as well or better than investor-owned for profit utilities like Xcel on key performance measures like cost, reliability, and renewable energy. The City also has a proven track record in providing cost-effective, highly popular utility services.

 

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Minneapolis Energy Options and CenterPoint Energy announce agreement to reduce carbon emissions in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS – July 23, 2013 – Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) and CenterPoint Energy announced today that they have entered into an agreement to collaborate on energy initiatives in the City of Minneapolis.3-Panel_City_Center_Color_for_light_bg.jpg

The Minneapolis Energy Options Campaign is working to address rising energy costs and moving toward a clean, affordable, reliable, local energy future.

“The Minneapolis Energy Options campaign applauds CenterPoint's leadership, by entering into this agreement to reduce their global warming impact, increase efficiency, and create a more sustainable and equitable future for the residents of Minneapolis,” remarked Dylan Kesti, campaign coordinator for the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign, which has pushed for a November ballot measure that would authorize the City of Minneapolis to explore establishing a municipal energy utilities in the city. 

 “With the announcement of today’s agreement, Minneapolis Energy Options feels that authorizing the formation of a city-owned gas utility is no longer necessary at this time.  Minneapolis Energy Options is excited to see CenterPoint responding to Minneapolis residents’ grassroots leadership,” said Dylan Kesti.  “We are thankful that they are ready to work with us for a cleaner, more affordable, reliable and local energy future in Minneapolis.”

CenterPoint Energy has committed to pursue the City of Minneapolis’ goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2025 and to assist all of its customers in reducing their energy consumption and the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

 

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Save the Date!

Save the Date!

Attention Minneapolis: We need you and your neighbors at City Hall on August 1st at 9:00 am to show your support for an affordable, local and clean energy future for our city!

By a 10-3 vote on Friday June 28th, the Minneapolis city council agreed to hold a public hearing on a ballot measure to create municipal electric and gas utilities.  It’s the first step toward addressing rising energy costs and moving Minneapolis’ energy forward.

Minneapolis Energy Options is hosting a Rally at 9am-10am outside at the Hennepin County North Plaza supporting City Hall in keeping our energy options open. We need YOU at this rally to show that Minneapolis wants a better energy future.  

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Minneapolis City Council Sets Public Hearing for Municipal Utility Ballot Measure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                             June 28, 2013

Contact: Dylan Kesti, Campaign Manager, (218) 591-4172, dylan@minneapolisenergyoptions.org 

Minneapolis City Council Sets Public Hearing for Municipal Utility Ballot Measure

Minneapolis, MN – By a 10-3 vote today, the Minneapolis city council agreed to hold a public hearing on a ballot measure to create municipal electric and gas utilities.  It’s a first step toward addressing rising energy costs and moving toward a clean, affordable, reliable, local energy future.

“The bottom line is that we can do better than the status quo,” remarked Dylan Kesti, campaign coordinator for the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign, which has pushed for the ballot measure.  “With $450 million a year – and rising – spent on gas and electricity for Minneapolis, the city needs to explore all its options.”

“This public hearing is a crucial step toward a better energy future.”

The public hearing (and potential ballot measure) come at a key time: the city’s 20-year contracts with Xcel and CenterPoint Energy expire in 2014.  Discussion of a municipal option increases the city’s leverage to ask for significant energy concessions in its contract negotiations and opens the door to a municipal utility option.

 

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Minneapolis can choose a better energy future, and DFL convention is key

This year Minneapolis has a once-in-a-generation opportunity. We can continue to import polluting energy into our community, or we can vote "yes" and choose a better energy future.

This opportunity may rest on what happens at the DFL city convention Saturday when delegates consider whether to put a “yes” vote on the DFL's fall sample ballot, a key to success.

At stake is $450 million per year that Minneapolis spends on electricity and gas services. These 20-year agreements with Xcel Energy and Centerpoint Energy expire in 2014. The Minneapolis Energy Options coalition is working to advance clean, affordable, reliable, and local energy as the city’s agreements expire, by affirming a ballot measure authorizing the city to pursue municipal ownership of energy utilities.

If the utilities won’t respond at the negotiating table, the ballot measure gives the city power to make its own way toward a better energy future. A study of the municipal option in Boulder, Colo., (also an Xcel customer) indicates they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half, at similar or lower electric rates and with higher reliability.

Seriously exploring the challenges and benefits of publicly owned energy utilities will improve Minneapolis' position in contract negotiations, even if the city decides not to move ahead with municipalization.

As the DFL delegates are making important decisions for our city on Saturday, it should be noted that Minneapolis Energy Options’ focus on clean, affordable, reliable, and local energy aligns perfectly with the DFL action agenda and party platform. It’s also good policy. 

The City of Lakes could sign franchise agreements with its two big utilities, their polluting power plants and their shareholders for another 20 years. They would be happy to oblige. But the world is changing, and I hope that the city (and DFL delegates) will keep our options open.