As you've probably heard, our campaign has succeeded in helping Minneapolis form a City-Utility Clean Energy Partnership with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy which have both pledged to be partners in creating a clean and affordable energy future with the City.
This is a great step forward, but now we need to see the big utilities put action behind their words. Right now, Xcel Energy is considering whether to extend the life of Minnesota's largest coal-burning power plant, Sherco, for another 20 years. Sherco Units 1 and 2 are Minnesota’s largest CO2 emitters in addition to being on the EPA’s “watch list” as one of the nation’s top emitters of toxic mercury and sulfur dioxide.
Some people have raised the question of whether coal power plants are needed to help back-up variable wind and solar energy. As Ken Regelson explains in this video, coal has no part of a clean energy future because base-load coal and nuclear power plants cannot back up variable renewable energy sources because they can't easily change their output. Therefore the millions of dollars spent on upgrading and maintaining aging coal and nuclear plants (which make up around 65% of Xcel's electricity) raise additional barriers preventing wind and solar from becoming the majority of our power supply. Meanwhile, we have to pay the cost of these repairs and upgrades ( ) through our utility bills.
To learn more about how Xcel's effort to repair and extend the life of outdated power plants relates to Minneapolis's clean energy future, please join in for our next Community Education event, December 9, 2014 at 06:30 PM at 1074 Cedar View Drive Minneapolis.
In addition join us in the search for the best crowd-sourced answers to the question! "How might communities lead the rapid transition to renewable energy?" You can add your own ideas or "applaud" or comment on our great work in Minneapolis!
As Xcel Energy customers, its time to make sure Xcel is serious about its commitment to be our partner in a clean energy future. Our partner, the Sierra Club NorthStar chapter, is hosting a day of action on December 3rd, to make sure Xcel Energy considers retiring their coal-burning generators Sherco 1 and 2 in their Integrated Resource Plan to be released January 2nd.
Here are some easy ways to help encourage Xcel on Wednesday 12/3:
1. Join the Sierra Club for a happy hour at Pat’s Tap (35th and Nicollet in Minneapolis) at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 3, where they will be doing the following actions and enjoying Beyond Coal solidarity over food and drinks!
2. Write a letter to the editor of a local paper connecting the issues of pollution and climate change with decisions to continue coal use into the future. To send a message emphasizing about the potential for renewable energy check out this Article on the Sierra Club Blogpost about how Minnesota’s electric grid can handle 40% renewables while reliably supplying power 24/7.
3. Post to Xcel Energy Minnesota’s Facebook page asking them to include retirement of Sherco 1 and 2 when they write their long-term energy plans. Please remember, the goal of getting a hundred people to post on Xcel’s Facebook page is not to malign Xcel Energy but is to demonstrate how many people care about this issue. Xcel has suggested that they have not received much input on retiring Sherco 1 and 2, so let's give them that input!" For Twitter as well, also add the sample messages, below:
- I call on @XcelEnergyMinnesota to retire the Sherco coal plant and replace it with clean energy. #ActOnClimate #Minnesota #BeyondCoal
- As an @XcelEnergyMinnesota customer, I applaud your clean energy leadership and ask you to continue by making a plan to replace Sherco 1&2 coal units with clean #renewable energy
- Be responsible by nature @XcelEnergyMinnesota by moving beyond coal at Sherco 1&2 and making a plan to replace coal with clean energy.
- Protect Minnesota’s health, protect our environment and #ActOnClimate. @XcelEnergyMinnesota move #BeyondCoal at Sherco 1&2 and invest in a #CleanEnergy future we can be proud of.
- I care about the environment and communities across Minnesota that are suffering from coal plant pollution. Minnesota has the chance to be a leader in clean energy. We need @XcelEnergyMinnesota to replace our biggest polluter, Sherco 1 & 2.
Overall, the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership means we want 21st Century power, rather than more sunken capital into polluting coal.