We have had a successful run at the state legislature because we helped position the City of Minneapolis to establish a relationship with our utilities that actually promises to move the City toward its energy goals. This culminated at the March 17th informational hearing before the House Energy Policy Committee. Minneapolis City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden started off the hearing by testifying about the City's strong intent to get cleaner, more efficient and reliable energy services that are affordable and provide local economic development benefits. A big takeaway from Elizabeth Glidden's testimony is about the city's goal of 10% local renewable energy by 2025 and her statement
“It is no secret that Minneapolis had a debate about municipalization in 2013. This debate for some was a reflection of a desire to explore all options that relate to our energy future.”
Following Council Member Glidden, Mike Bull of Center for Energy and Environment testified about the Energy Pathways Study, commissioned by the City, which lays out pathways that can achieve the energy goals.
“Soon after we began our work (with the study), it became clear that the status quo in Minneapolis was not going to allow the city to meet its aggressive clean-energy goals...The city could not rely on the utilities alone to meet the cities energy goals... In order for the city to meet its goals it needed more influence or control over energy services in the city and that is where we started in the pathways review.”
Following this, Xcel Energy regional vice president Laura McCarten stated:
“As you have heard Minneapolis has strong progressive energy vision it plans and we are excited to work with the city to help it achieve its goals. The municipalization debate of 2013 created opportunities really for Xcel Energy to build on our strong existing partnership with the City of Minneapolis.”
McCarten attempted to add some substance to the backdrop Mike Bull set up by identifying new energy initiatives Xcel energy is offering in regard to Minneapolis:
1: Working to streamline our processes related to interconnecting solar projects.”
2: Intention to file with regulators over the summer for a solar energy development tariff
3: Intention to file with regulators over the summer for a program for LED streetlight conversions.
4: Piloting a “customized community energy program” in a Minneapolis neighborhood this fall.
These are laudable promises to hold Xcel Energy accountable toward as Minneapolis renegotiates its Franchise Agreement with Xcel later this year.
It is clear that Xcel Energy wants to provide a counter-example to their handling of Boulder, Colorado pursing a municipal utility, and in Minneapolis we are providing Xcel Energy with that opportunity.
There are indeed cities that have conservation and renewable energy goals that are more aggressive than required under any state statute, and Tim Springer of Community Power spoke in support of the right of people in these communities meet their goals. He testified,
“I believe that Minnesota cities and towns deserve greater rights for self-determination on how they tackle the climate change challenge. It is critical we break away from business as usual to do this and the bills before you today allow a more creative approach.”