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.
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.Read more
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.
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.Read more
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.