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.

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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.

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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.


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