By Ken Bradley
Mayor Rybak was one of the first mayors to sign the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement approved by the Minneapolis City Council, which established a goal to curb greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy. Taking the agreement one step further, the city of Minneapolis also established its own, more ambitious goal of a 30 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 (based on 2006 levels).
Xcel Energy and Centerpoint Energy are responsible for roughly two-thirds of our city’s greenhouse gas emissions. They have made some progress, yet last year the carbon intensity of Xcel Energy’s electricity increased and the city has no guarantee from either utility to meet the city’s greenhouse gas targets. Neither utility has shown strong support for local renewable energy programs and Xcel proposed eliminating the popular Solar Rewards Program.
In the next few years both Xcel Energy’s and Centerpoint Energy’s franchise agreements with the city of Minneapolis are coming up for renewal. These 20-year contracts give each utility a monopoly over electricity and gas service, respectively, and are common to most cities.
This pending expiration of contracts makes this the perfect opportunity to align Minneapolis’ goals to reduce emissions; increase local, renewable energy; and reduce energy usage with these long-term agreements. Minneapolis has three options:
1. We can negotiate new 20 year franchise agreements with Xcel and Centerpoint Energy that provide guarantees the utilities will meet their part of the greenhouse gas emission reductions, increase local renewables and energy-efficiency.
2. Sign a short-term three- to five-year franchise agreement with Xcel and Centerpoint Energy while the city explores other options like creating a municipal utility.
3. Sign another 20-year franchise agreement with no guarantees Xcel and Centerpoint Energy will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, investments in local, renewable energy and energy efficiency.