This decision was a major win for Community Power, but it is only the first step in the journey towards clean, local, equitable, affordable, and reliable energy. Next, we'll have to make sure the Partnership achieves real progress. Here's a quick look at what we got:
- The new franchise agreements are 10 years long and create clear authorization for the City Council to terminate them early anytime after the 5 year mark with a vote of 9 of the members of City Council (there are 13 total) if the utilities do not make adequate progress in the Partnership. This creates much more flexibility than the previous 20-year agreements.
- The new franchise agreements that have a fee structure that can be changed over the years to help fund programs in the Partnership that help save on energy costs for residents and businesses. The current franchise fees have brought in around $24 million/year to the city of Minneapolis.
- The new City-Utility Clean Energy Partnership Agreement creates an 8-member Board composed of the Mayor, City Coordinator, 2 City Councilmembers, 2 Xcel Energy representatives, and 2 CenterPoint Energy Representatives and will make decisions around the future of Minneapolis energy sourcing, maintenance, financing, hiring, efficiency, and other programs. This board held its first meeting on February 4th, 2015 a meeting which generated this preliminary draft of the Clean Energy Partnership Work Plan for the EVAC to review.
- The new City-Utility Clean Energy Partnership Agreement calls for the formation of the Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC) which will be a 15 member body that provides a way for public input to keep the partnership dynamic and accountable to its goals. The EVAC membership was publicly announced on March 17, 2015. The EVAC will develop the annual work plans for the partnership and will review and guide the implementation of those work plans. The EVAC has held meetings on April 16, 2015, May 6, 2015, August 18th, 2015, November 10th, 2015, February 16th, 2016, May 23rd, 2016, and August 29th, 2016. Community Power encourages any interested community member to apply to become a member of this committee in order to ensure a wide range of community voices are represented.
- The final 2015-2016 work plan for the Clean Energy Partnership was formally adopted by its board on its May 29th, 2015 meeting.
How We Got Here:
- 2012: broad-based coalition-building with neighborhood groups, local business associations, environmental justice organizations, youth orgs, labor, and economic justice advocates.
- 2013: a massive grassroots campaign to push the city government to place an initiative on the ballot that would authorize (not require) the formation of a city-owned utility. We reached 65,000 Minneapolitans (pop 400,000), became a central issue in the City Council and mayoral elections, and were getting 2-5 media hits a week in Twin Cities media markets May-August. We did not end up getting on the ballot, but the process brought us major leverage on many fronts.
- 2014: deep community education (we've run over 65 popular education events engaging at least 650 residents) and grassroots advocacy pushing the city-council to take bold action on the energy vision it established in 2013. This culminated in getting this agreement.
- 2015: continued community education, observation of & engagement with partnership to pressure partners towards accountability, equity, & comprehensive action.
- On October 14th, 2015, the Partnership launched its Building Energy Challenge program to encourage energy efficiency improvements among various types of commercial buildings.
- On October 15th, 2015, Xcel filed a strategic system-wide plan to retrofit their existing streetlight fixtures with LED lights over the next 5 years. Mayor Betsy Hodges has allocated $400,000 in her 2016 budget proposal for LED streetlight conversions. The City will work with Xcel on an implementation timetable identifying priority areas for streetlight retrofits.
- In the fall of 2015, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy have jointly launched a streamlined multi-family building energy efficiency program. Energy users who pay utility bills to both Xcel and Centerpoint will now have a single point of contact for whole building energy efficiency opportunities and audits.
- In September 2015, the City of Minneapolis bought down the usual $70 cost of Home Energy Squad® visits and started offering them for free to income qualified residents though fliers sent out in municipal water bills. As an additional measure to encourage energy efficiency improvements in the residential sector, the City had also offered no-interest financing for any home insulation and air sealing upgrades recommended by the Home Energy Squad visits.