Check out the visionary community solar work happening now in North Minneapolis.
This project is a product of a new collaboration between Shiloh Temple, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light (MNIPL), Sierra Club North Star, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Renewable NRG Partners, & Cooperative Energy Futures.
The core priorities of the project are creating access to clean energy for all, and providing job training in the solar industry to local, low-income residents.
On September 16th, the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization, tenants, and multifamily building leaders came together and formed a coalition with organizations and energy experts from the community to devise solutions and strategies to address the energy justice & power dynamics facing renters in Minneapolis. The energy and momentum created here can be channeled to support tenant organizing city-wide. Overall we have to organize to build up enough community pressure to finally induce some productive meetings with landlords who have not been investing in energy efficiency. This is an issue that could bring some radical energy that drew so many into the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign a few years ago.
In a July 31st Star Tribune article, Xcel’s CEO revealed they will push to limit the growth of residential and community solar upon a claim that it would be almost twice as expensive as Xcel pursuing utility scale solar instead. The Star Tribune could have at least done some more work to research this claim.
The recent study Xcel’s CEO was probably referring to was funded by the Edison Electric Institute and was prepared for a Walmart-family supported solar developer, both of which have a financial interest in reducing competition from distributed solar.
While Utility Scale Solar may produce electricity a little cheaper, its electricity is worth a lot less. This is because residential/ community solar is able to deliver power straight to the point of use while utility scale solar often requires the construction of expensive new high-voltage transmission infrastructure that is often controversial for communities they are built through. Other studies show how such delivery costs can cancel out the modestly better economies of scale utility-scale solar has at the point of generation.Read more
Written by George Crocker, Community Power board member
Many cities and towns, including Minneapolis, have “Franchise Agreements” with power companies that allow them to use public roadways and other rights of way for their electric lines or gas pipes. In exchange, these utilities collect a specified amount of money on the utility bill of consumers within the municipality and pass that money on to the municipality. These contracts also specify who is responsible for various aspects of repair and maintenance of the infrastructure, and have typically been for 20-year periods.
The Minneapolis Franchise Agreements with Xcel Energy (electricity) and CenterPoint Energy (natural gas) expired at the end of 2014. Three years ago, leadership from the North American Water Office and an allied organization, Grand Aspirations, recognized that these expirations provided an opportunity for the City to create pathways for energy management in Minneapolis that was much cleaner and more local, efficient, affordable, equitable, renewable and reliable than the energy services being provided by Xcel Energy and CenterPoint under state regulation. We followed the lead of forward-thinking people in Boulder, Colorado, also in the Xcel Energy service territory, and began a campaign called Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) to explore strategies for reaching local economic and energy sustainability goals, up to and including a municipal electric utility in Minneapolis.Read more
Comments/letters will be accepted until September 2, 2015.
NOW is the time to hold Xcel to its agreement to the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership!
The SAMPLE LETTER to send in begins below: