Minneapolis City Council Sets Public Hearing for Municipal Utility Ballot Measure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                             June 28, 2013

Contact: Dylan Kesti, Campaign Manager, (218) 591-4172, dylan@minneapolisenergyoptions.org 

Minneapolis City Council Sets Public Hearing for Municipal Utility Ballot Measure

Minneapolis, MN – By a 10-3 vote today, the Minneapolis city council agreed to hold a public hearing on a ballot measure to create municipal electric and gas utilities.  It’s a first step toward addressing rising energy costs and moving toward a clean, affordable, reliable, local energy future.

“The bottom line is that we can do better than the status quo,” remarked Dylan Kesti, campaign coordinator for the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign, which has pushed for the ballot measure.  “With $450 million a year – and rising – spent on gas and electricity for Minneapolis, the city needs to explore all its options.”

“This public hearing is a crucial step toward a better energy future.”

The public hearing (and potential ballot measure) come at a key time: the city’s 20-year contracts with Xcel and CenterPoint Energy expire in 2014.  Discussion of a municipal option increases the city’s leverage to ask for significant energy concessions in its contract negotiations and opens the door to a municipal utility option.

 

The city council also approved a $250,000 Energy Pathways study, to better understand its choices.  “Forming a municipal utility is a multi-year process that requires a lot of careful deliberation and study,” said Kesti, “but given the potential rewards, the city council has made a wise move in approving this first study.”  The Energy Pathways study will help the City move forward with either forming a municipal energy utility or improving the franchise agreements with Xcel and Centerpoint.  The timing of the study, which has a first report back to the city council in September, is aligned well with the proposed ballot initiative to give the City as much leverage and information as possible moving into the franchise negotiations in 2014.

The city council also voted to approve the City’s Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2025, which includes strategies to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy that are not currently allowed by the existing utilities.

In 2005, Winter Park, Florida, completed the first switch to a municipal electric utility in decades, but it achieved significantly better electric reliability at a comparable cost to Progress Energy.  The cost to form the utility was $42 million.

In 2011, Boulder, Colo., voted to form a municipal utility.  Its recently completed feasibility study suggests that the city can buy out Xcel Energy, match their prices, maintain reliability, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by half, and increase renewable energy deployment.

With this potential, should the city go for municipal ownership?

“It’s too early to say,” said Kesti, “but we’ve got nothing to lose by keeping all options on the table.”

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