Taking Control of Our Energy Future

Mayor Rybak was one of the first mayors to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement approved by the Minneapolis City Council, which established a goal to curb greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy. Taking the agreement one step further, the city of Minneapolis also established its own, more ambitious goal of a 30 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 (based on 2006 levels).

Xcel Energy and Centerpoint Energy are responsible for roughly two-thirds of our city’s greenhouse gas emissions. They have made some progress, yet last year the carbon intensity of Xcel Energy’s electricity increased and the city has no guarantee from either utility to meet the city’s greenhouse gas targets. Neither utility has shown strong support for local renewable energy programs and Xcel proposed eliminating the popular Solar Rewards Program.

In the next few years both Xcel Energy’s and Centerpoint Energy’s franchise agreements with the city of Minneapolis are coming up for renewal. These 20-year contracts give each utility a monopoly over electricity and gas service, respectively, and are common to most cities.

This pending expiration of contracts makes this the perfect opportunity to align Minneapolis’ goals to reduce emissions; increase local, renewable energy; and reduce energy usage with these long-term agreements. Minneapolis has three options:

Read the rest in the Downtown Journal ->


Boulder’s Mayor Coming to Minneapolis to Discuss Energy Options!

In November 2011, the citizens of Boulder, CO, voted to allow the city to proceed with a long and thoughtful process toward municipalizing their electric utility.  On Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 8:00 AM, join Minneapolis Energy Options and Boulder, Colorado, (former) Mayor Susan Osborne and Institute for Local Self-Reliance Policy Senior Researcher John Farrell to learn more about Boulder’s shift toward clean, local energy and what’s happening in Minneapolis!

RSVP today to save your seat for “Green Ideas & Ham” with Susan Osborne!

Minneapolis was one of the first cities to sign the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which established ambitious goals to cut emissions and increase renewable energy. More than forty other cities across Minnesota have signed the agreement as well. The city has a goal of cutting its global warming emissions 30% by 2025.

The city gets most of its energy through Xcel Energy and Centerpoint Energy, and while these utilities have made some progress, Xcel’s carbon emissions actually increased last year. If Minneapolis is going to meet its global warming reduction goals, Xcel and Centerpoint will need to sharply reduce their emissions and encourage clean energy programs in the city. But neither utility has shown strong support for local renewable energy programs and Xcel even proposed eliminating the popular Solar Rewards Program. As the franchise agreements between the city and Xcel and Centerpoint are coming up for renewal, it’s time to find more ways to drive clean, affordable energy in Minneapolis.

Former Boulder mayor Susan Osborne will explain how Boulder ended up with a ballot measure to form a municipal utility and why they were motivated to change their energy options.

As always, the event costs $15 for each attendee. That includes a $5 donation to event host Environment Minnesota, and $10 to the Red Stag Supperclub. Doors open at 7:30 and the tasty breakfast buffet begins at 7:45.

Click here to RSVP and donate $5 to Environment Minnesota ahead of time. 

Read more

August Update

It’s Summer 2012 and the Minneapolis Energy Options team has been at work finding friends and partners who care about Minneapolis’s energy future. As the City of Lakes enters the August lull, we’d like to take a minute to you on some changes in our energy scene.

Recently, our electric utility (Xcel Energy) proposed cutting rebate monies for the installation of solar panels in Minneapolis. This isn’t the first time Xcel tried to cut solar rebates. Last summer, Xcel proposed cuts to a rebate program for Minnesota-made solar panels, a program that supports solar manufacturers in the state like tenKsolar in Bloomington, and Silicon Energy in Mountain Iron.

Fortunately, a lot of organizations are working with Xcel and state leaders to try and preserve programs that support local clean energy generation.   And there are some great places around the country like Long Island or San Antonio that are keeping their local solar programs strong!  More detail to come in a future update!

We are always looking for allies to help further affordable and clean energy in our city.  Please tell your friends and neighbors so they can learn more about our city’s energy options!


An energy switch, waiting to be flipped

Originally published in the Star Tribune, 5/23/12:

As we spoke to legislators and activists roaming the halls of the State Capitol this past legislative session, it became increasingly clear that Xcel Energy and other utilities are calling the shots for our energy future.

They decide which bills will be heard and, ultimately, which will be passed into law. Not coincidentally, a champion of clean, local energy was denied a seat on the Public Utilities Commission by the Legislature.

Minnesota spends more than $20 billion a year on energy — primarily importing polluting fossil fuels — and the state’s utilities typically lobby against decreasing our dependency. This hampers our economy and harms our environment.

Fortunately, cities don’t have to rely on the Legislature to stand up for more-efficient and cleaner energy use.

 ————————-

Ken Bradley is director of Environment Minnesota. John Farrell is senior researcher specializing in energy policy for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Both are members of the Minneapolis Energy Option coalition.

Read more

Should Minneapolis keep its energy options open?

Facts:

  1. Minneapolis is dependent mostly on coal, nuclear, and gas for its energy.
  2. It’s energy use is inefficient because our suppliers have a financial interest in selling more energy.
  3. Our energy is provided by two corporate energy monopolies, Xcel Energy (electric) and Centerpoint Energy (gas), whose first priority is their shareholders.
  4. Our 20-year contracts with these two utilities will expire in the next three years.
  5. 20 years is a long time.

Goals:

  1. To use our energy dollars to pay for clean, local, and renewable energy instead of importing polluting energy.
  2. To make great strides to reduce energy use through conservation and efficiency.
  3. To reduce energy costs while increasing local economic development.

We support:

  1. The City of Minneapolis in keeping its options open rather than signing a long-term agreement with the same energy providers.
  2. City Council in creating a ballot initiative that would allow voters (in 2013) to enable our city council members and mayor to research, explore, and pursue the option of municipalizing our energy utilities to create a more reliable, affordable and clean local energy system.
  3. Advancing energy efficiency, clean energy, community ownership, and local economic development through a more democratic energy system.