Finance & Commerce – September 17, 2012
Franchise agreements seen as bargaining tool
A pair of expiring land-use agreements between Minneapolis and the state’s largest utilities has opened up a debate over the city’s role in pushing for greater investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The debate centers on a pair of 20-year-old franchise agreements that the city has with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy and are expiring at the end of 2014. The agreements focus on the fees a utility pays to use public rights-of-way, but advocates say they could also be used as a tool to get utilities to invest in city priorities.
“This is the city’s opportunity to see what they can do, and they should push as hard as they can to get as much as they can,” said Ken Bradley, a program director withEnvironment Minnesota.
Environment Minnesota is among the organizations participating in a recently formed group, Minneapolis Energy Options, which is pushing city leaders to seek investments in energy efficiency and renewable power as they work on fresh franchise agreements.