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.
1. 100% Renewable Energy for Minneapolis:
2. Create Energy Access for All:
3. Fund the Clean Energy Partnership:
4. Review Clean Energy Partnership Effectiveness and Franchise Agreements:
The Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership is trying to turn the tide of history against past utility incentives which explain why community engagement is not yet their standard practice for energy efficiency. Energy utilities have historically had financial incentive not to make it too easy for too many people to achieve significant energy savings because utility profits continue to be dependent upon their raw sale of Kilowatt Hours. This financial dependency became very apparent when Xcel requested to the PUC to raise rates specifically in response to their customer base as a whole consuming less electricity than previous years.
While energy utilities might lack an internal financial incentive to assist their customers in using a lesser amount of the product they sell, it is widely known that they have been required to do so by state laws. Because of the need to meet conservation improvement mandates, utilities are have an incentive to gather the lowest-cost energy savings regardless of any other non-mandated social benefits. As a result, many utilities have created laudable energy efficiency programs that are accessible to people with who have home ownership and a high credit score. That is the target market segment which offers utilities the lowest-hanging fruit energy savings- meaning the greatest amount of conservation improvement mandate credits per dollar invested into programming.Read more
Community members on the Clean Energy Partnership's 2015-2016 Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC) succeeded in beginning a serious movement to shift the focus of the Partnership energy efficiency program implementation towards the new approach of community engagement. As a result Xcel, Centerpoint and the City of Minneapolis have all pitched in $10,000 each toward the Community Engagement Pilot Project resulting in a total of $30,000 available to staff at least one pilot project and possibly as much as 3. Read this blogpost for some more background. Xcel, Centerpoint and the City of Minneapolis each made a $10,000 bet that taking this new approach would enable Minneapolis to more effectively meet its Climate Action Plan goals. While this is not a wholesale institutional shift where Xcel is redirecting half of their multi-million dollar marketing budget toward staffing community engagement, it is a courteous first step.