The opposition utility dumped $1 million into the campaign and outspent local activists 10-to-1, but Boulder citizens narrowly passed a measure giving the city the go-ahead to pursue a municipal electric utility with a goal of much more clean, local power. Here’s a short video about the campaign.
By Ken Bradley
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:
1. We can negotiate new 20 year franchise agreements with Xcel and Centerpoint Energy that provide guarantees the utilities will meet their part of the greenhouse gas emission reductions, increase local renewables and energy-efficiency.
2. Sign a short-term three- to five-year franchise agreement with Xcel and Centerpoint Energy while the city explores other options like creating a municipal utility.
3. Sign another 20-year franchise agreement with no guarantees Xcel and Centerpoint Energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, investments in local, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
This short video by the City of Boulder shows how the city council has teamed up with the nearby municipal utility in Ft. Collins to demystify the business of running an electric utility. This short video is a tour of local electric infrastructure.
If you missed her stellar presentation, now’s your chance to hear how Boulder finally came to municipalization of its electric system after many futile years of trying to work with Xcel Energy to get more clean, local power.
Star Tribune | September 23, 2012
As Minneapolis pushes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a third by 2025, city leaders are debating what role their franchise agreements with utility companies should play.
The agreements, signed in the early 1990s, give Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy space below or along streets, alleys and other public rights of way in exchange for millions of dollars in franchise fees.
But the city imposes no renewable energy requirements in the contracts. Minnesota law doesn’t allow municipalities to make those conditions in franchise agreements.
City Council members last week voted to create a work group to help determine the city’s future with Xcel and CenterPoint, whose agreements expire at the end of 2014. Officials expect to examine a range of possibilities, including pressing the state to give cities more authority in their utility agreements, reducing the span of agreements to just a couple of years rather than decades and having the city take over providing utilities.
Examining franchise contracts is only one way to meet emissions targets, said Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who chairs the regulatory committee.
“But it’s a big agreement, and it is directly with utility companies, and so, obviously, thinking about those goals, and is there a way to impact them, is going to be on our minds,” she said.