Minneapolis to study city-run utilities

April 16, 2013
BY: DYLAN THOMAS
Xcel Energy's headquarters on Nicollet Mall.
By Dylan Thomas
Study planned as franchise agreements with Xcel and CenterPoint set to expire

Before the city locks into new franchise agreements with its gas and electricity suppliers, Minneapolis will first explore the possibility of setting up its own municipal utility.

Twenty-year agreements with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy are set to expire in late 2014. By then, city leaders aim to refine their goals for a cleaner, more sustainable energy system and examine all the potential routes for reaching those goals.

One option is for Minneapolis to take charge of providing gas and electricity to its residents. Proponents argue that route would speed Minneapolis’ progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve the reliability of the services and add jobs.

The City Council voted April 12 to spend up to $250,000 exploring that scenario and others over the next nine months with the Energy System Pathways Study.

“We want to let our current utility providers know these are our goals and we are serious about trying to find a path to better achieve our goals,” said City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (8th Ward).

 

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Working to Secure Local Economic Investment in Green Jobs as we build a Clean, Affordable, Reliable, and Local Energy Future for All.

Minneapolis Energy Options

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Working to Secure Local Economic Investment in Green Jobs as we build a Clean, Affordable, Reliable, and Local Energy Future for All.

By: Dylan Kesti, Minneapolis Energy Options Campaign Coordinator

In Minneapolis, MN Energy costs are rising and energy pollution is causing significantlocal and global problems. In Minneapolis we also have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make cleaner, more affordable, and more local energy available to all in Minneapolis.

In 2014 the city of Minneapolis will be renegotiating a contract with its electric and gas utilities. It’s an opportunity to change the status quo as we embark on a conversation that will chart a new energy future for the city and its residents and businesses.

In Minneapolis the franchise agreements (20 year agreements that allow the major local utilities to use the public right of way to distribute electricity and natural gas to Minneapolis energy users in exchange for paying Minneapolis about $24 million annually) is expiring in 2014.

In this moment of great opportunity to negotiate new 20 year franchise agreements with Xcel Energy and Center Point Energy, Minneapolis Energy Options stands to keep our city’s energy options open so we can secure an affordable, reliable, clean, efficient, and locally-controlled energy future for all.

In order to secure a Clean, Affordable, Reliable, and Local Energy Future for all we must build and maintain equitable training and hiring practices for Green Jobs in Minneapolis.

As Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All wrote early this month in her blog (Want to tackle climate change and fight poverty? Protect job training) supporting Federal Investment in local green job growth,

 “If the solution seems simple, that’s because it is. By giving workers a chance to develop job skills in the growing clean energy economy, we not only fight unemployment–we give our country’s promising green industries the most valuable asset of all–trained, competent, knowledgeable American workers.”

At this moment in Minneapolis there is an opportunity on the table to invest in the clean energy economy, which will help move Minneapolis energy forward with a clean energy economy and also help the city meet our climate action goals.

 

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Minneapolis Fifth Ward candidates talk municipal energy, environmental concerns

April 10, 2013

What if Minneapolis just didn’t renew the 20-year contracts with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy that are coming up at the end 2014? Boulder, Colorado is on its way to do just that as they look toward terminating their contract with Xcel, joining cities across the country that have municipal energy utilities, such as Los Angeles, San Antonio and Austin, Texas and Moorhead and Rochester in Minnesota.Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO), a coalition seeking to expand the energy options in Minneapolis, believes Minneapolis needs to look at all our options. They held a forum with City Council 5th Ward candidates on April 9 at the Minneapolis Urban League, to talk about the possibility of municipal energy as well as other environmental concerns.

MEO currently has a campaign to get a resolution endorsed through the Minneapolis caucus process that would put a ballot question up for voters next fall about authorizing Minneapolis to “research, explore and pursue the option of converting our energy utilities to city ownership, if such a transition would create a more reliable affordable and clean local energy system,” according to the resolution.

Meanwhile, the city council is looking at pursuing $250,000 study that would measure the costs and challenges of municipal takeover of gas and electric. The measure was approved in committee on April 4th, according to MEO

According to a staff report from the City council, state law limits the city’s authority over utility in franchise agreements, but Minneapolis is seeking legislative changes to “allow negotiations with Xcel and CenterPoint to explore how Minneapolis could make progress towards its goals for sustainable energy, improved air quality, equity, and green jobs,” according to the report. The city also wants to pursue pursuing options “outside the existing franchise agreement structure, including, but not limited to changes to state legislative or PUC rule changes, unique utility partnerships, changes to the way the City uses franchise fees, and municipalization of one or both energy utilities,” the report states.

 

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Minneapolis rethinks pacts with utilities

Minneapolis rethinks pacts with utilities

Posted: 5:23 pm Thu, April 4, 2013 
By Drew Kerr 
Tags: CenterPoint EnergyDylan KestiElizabeth GliddenJack KegelLaura McCartenMinneapolis Energy OptionsMinnesota Municipal Utility AssociationXcel Energy

 

Xcel Energy continues work on a new power substation east of the Hiawatha Avenue and East 28thStreet intersection in Minneapolis. City officials are backing legislation that would require the utility to disclose more information about its maintenance plans and system reliability. (STAFF PHOTO: BILL KLOTZ)

City wants Xcel, CenterPoint to do better job meeting energy goals

The city of Minneapolis may be playing a game of brinkmanship as it works to get privately held electric and gas utilities to put more effort into meeting its local energy goals.

But as negotiations ramp up, it’s also putting real money toward the effort and trying to win the support of Minnesota lawmakers who could help them improve their hand.

Hamstrung by state laws limiting cities’ ability to influence energy policy, Minneapolis is pursuing a $250,000 study of the costs and challenges involved with a municipal takeover of electric and gas distribution. The study, approved by a committee of the Minneapolis City Council on Thursday, is expected to show initial results this fall.

The city is also backing legislation that would force utilities to include energy-efficiency goals, maintenance plans, alternative energy policies and quarterly reports on system reliability in franchise agreements with the city. Such agreements allow utilities access to publicly owned right of way in exchange for giving cities a share of revenue.

Officials say Minneapolis remains a long way from creating a municipal utility, a costly and time-consuming endeavor in which the city would purchase utility assets and assume control of electric or gas distribution.

But as Minneapolis negotiates a pair of expiring franchise agreements with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, it is getting more serious about following in the path of Boulder, Colo., and other cities where takeover threats are being used to advance local energy goals.

 

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Minneapolis Pursues Energy System Pathways Study

The City of Minneapolis has just announced a proposed city-sponsored study of alternatives to an energy system that isn't giving Minneapolis what it needs. The city coordinator wants the Council to authorize a study of energy options, including "state legislative or PUC rule changes, unique utility partnerships, changes to the way the City uses franchise fees or new City programs, and municipalization of one or both energy utilities."

This is a great step to Move Minneapolis Energy Forward, and an important complement to a YES vote on Nov. 5 to give the city the authorization to consider municipalization of the energy utilities.

WE NEED YOUR HELP to get that ballot option in November by getting it endorsed in the caucuses on April 16. 

Sign Up HERE to Caucus for MEO: http://bit.ly/Y02T0C 

Read the Proposal for the City Study HERE:http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@clerk/documents/webcontent/wcms1p-106211.pdf