Minneapolis poised to deliver millions for clean energy & efficiency

 Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges presented to the City Council a 2018 Budget proposal that puts nearly $6 Million behind meeting the City’s Climate & Energy Pledges and (in her words) "to ensure we’re not ignoring communities that have faced a disproportionate share of environmental vulnerability” 4 weeks after she released a 2018 City budget overview on August 15th.

At long last, we could finally be seeing a path to unlock millions for clean energy and making cost & energy saving improvements more accessible to Minneapolis residents & businesses. 

About half of this near $6 million comes from Mayor Hodges taking the Clean Energy Franchise fee recommendation from the Minneapolis Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC).

EVAC concluded that increasing the City’s natural gas and electricity utility franchise fee by 0.5 percent would be both the most fair and most effective option to create a reliable stream of ongoing funding dedicated to scaling up the work of the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership. In their report, EVAC laid out a roadmap on how the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership can most effectively spend the $2.89 Million in dedicated funding naming proven & reliable initiatives in need of more funding such as the City's Green Business Cost Share Program.





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Meet Minneapolis Climate Action Plan goals in ways that advance Economic Justice and Renters Rights

Last week, it became even more imperative for individual city and state governments to take the initiative on climate justice. Already, 248 Mayors of US Cities have signed onto a letter to adopt, honor and uphold the Paris Climate Agreement including Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and yes, Pittsburgh.  


But we have to meet Minneapolis Climate Action Plan goals in ways that also advance economic justice and renters rights at the same time. At Community Power’s forum on June 29th, we will ask contenders for Mayor of Minneapolis their plan to create a dedicated source of funds to scale up the work which the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership is doing to carry out that mission.


In an energy efficiency doorknocking project called Our Power, which was the precedent to Community Power and the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign we heard from families in 7 south Minneapolis neighborhoods who have to choose whether to pay their monthly utility bill or pay for medicine. We saw first-hand how the same households who have the most immediate financial incentive significantly reduce their energy consumption and utility bills also have the least amount of access to the currently available programs to be able to do projects like insulation and weather sealing.

Trump administration plans to slash funds for the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program only add to the urgency that we think through how to make energy efficiency more accessible to low-income, low-credit score, and renter households. As we know, it gets cold in Minnesota and not everyone can simply fly to Florida each weekend during the winter.

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Gov. Dayton vetoes anti-solar bill

Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed a disturbing billHF234, that could have severely curtail growth of solar and wind power in small-town Minnesota. 

A 2015 state law enabled MN cooperative utilities to target customers who net meter their renewable power with unfair punitive fees, some over $80/month

HF234 limits rural coop customers’ ability to fight back because the bill eliminates the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) authority to review and handle disputes over these astronomical fees.

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Xcel Sherco Gas Plant Bill becomes State Law: Betrayal at the Capitol

When have we ever seen a rare coalition of environmental groups, low income consumer advocates, big industrial energy users, free market research groups, and faith communities join together? All came out earlier this year against a bill which gives the “regulated” monopoly Xcel energy the ‘sole discretion’ on whether it builds its Natural Gas plant in Becker, thus removing the usual authority of State Regulators to make the final approval for Xcel. This is a significant regulatory workaround in terms of expense. Xcel’s costs estimate for the project are $800 million to remodel the Sherco Coal unit into a Natural Gas Generator and $200 million to build a gas line, all of these costs which will all to be passed onto Xcel customers like you and me.

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Community Power 2017 Platform

Community Power is organizing a coalition of economic and environmental justice organizations, neighborhood associations, and climate groups. Community Power is deeply involved in the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership and related efforts that support the Minneapolis Energy Vision (http://bit.ly/2je0qDN) established by Minneapolis City Council in 2014. 

 Community Power will advance the following priorities in Minneapolis over the next four years. We 
invite all Minneapolis 2017 candidates to publicly support these positions: 

1. 100% Renewable Energy for Minneapolis:

         a. Implement 100% renewable electricity across Minneapolis by 2030. 
         b. Implement 100% renewable energy across Minneapolis by 2050.
         c. Secure 100% renewable electricity for Minneapolis city operations by 2021. 

2. Create Energy Access for All: 

         a. Bring Inclusive Financing for energy improvements to Minneapolis so that all residents and businesses can make cost-effective energy upgrades with no upfront cost and no debt. 
         b. Building community solar gardens on City buildings while mandating access for low income Minneapolis families, and training & hiring residents of color. 
         c. Advance utility justice for renters by removing barriers to participation in energy affordability and efficiency programs, ensuring landlord compliance, increasing community engagement within rental properties and including energy performance in rental license tiering and rental advertising. 

3. Fund the Clean Energy Partnership: 

         a. Use increases to utility franchise fees, participation in clean energy projects, and other ongoing revenue streams to secure dedicated funding for the Clean Energy Partnership. 
         b. Ensure that funding covers: 
                 i. - at least one full-time, dedicated staff position to the partnership, 
                 ii. - robust, city-wide community-led engagement in energy solutions, 
                 iii. - mechanisms that provide universal access to capital for energy improvements requiring no upfront cost and no debt 
                 iv. - comprehensive energy programs that benefit all users and make it easy to save money and energy 
                 v. - Pilot projects to test renewable heating options such as anaerobic digestion, geothermal district heating, or renewable-powered heat pumps. 

4. Review Clean Energy Partnership Effectiveness and Franchise Agreements: 

           a. In the second half of 2018, review Clean Energy Partnership progress toward meeting City energy goals, and define clear timelines and metrics for necessary course adjustment 
           b. Conduct a thorough evaluation based on Partnership effectiveness to decide to continue or terminate utility franchise agreements in early 2019. 
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