This year has been unprecedented. On a global scale, a pandemic. On a national scale, a long overdue upheaval in protest to racial injustice to which Community Power posted an extensive historical reflection on. On a local scale we have seen changes in how we work, live, and take care of one another. Below are some highlights of what we accomplished in 2020 always alongside partners.
CALLING FOR WHAT'S TRULY NEEDED: ENERGY JUSTICE
- Joint Letter to Xcel & the PUC on shut-offs and utility debt: As the COVID crisis hit, Community Power contributed to a joint letter to protect families from utility shut-offs and to demand utility debt cancellation by using Xcel’s historic profits made during the pandemic. As one among many voices from the Just Solar Coalition, we spoke up together to the Governor, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and the utilities themselves, and won a moratorium on utility shut-offs that extends as long as the crisis.
EXPANDING ACCESS AND PARTICIPATION IN ENERGY DECISION-MAKING
Groundbreaking Video Testimony Approved: We helped open the doors for ordinary folks to comment on the plans of energy utilities by winning a decision from a judge to allow short video testimony -- our first case saw a total of 72 Minnesotans take advantage of this option. That show of support played a key role in a recent encouraging decision, and the Judge cited this as an important precedent that captured the spirit of the law for participation, transparency, fairness, and process. Sincere thanks to the team at Sierra Club and CERTs for helping pull this off together, and to ILSR, CEF, and MN350 for co-signing our letter and adding key data points.
- Building Power of Community in the "Superbowl" of Energy - Xcel's 15-Year Plan: We have kept Minnesotans regularly updated about improving Xcel’s 15-year Energy Plan and for that purpose over the long multi-year process with the multiple delay requests from Xcel. Over the course, of the fall we were invited to join a team of folks supporting grassroots groups to comment, intervene, and influence Xcel's IRP to better reflect the needs of community in the metro area, which have unequivocally oppose fossil fuel and Xcel's attempts to diminish community ownership of renewables.
- Partnering with St. Paul 350 to support more bottom-up style climate fights in St. Paul. We provided technical and logistical support in outreach to district councils, St. Paul educators, and other community organizations around how to approach Xcel, and how to create change on behalf of community solar and other clean energy-friendly policies.
INCLUSIVE FINANCING FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY MOVES AHEAD
Inclusive Financing Is Almost Here: After years of conversations with community partners, technical experts, and City leaders, we had a whirlwind of progress and work on Inclusive Financing. On November 20th after a series of public hearings, comment periods, and letter-writing, the overseeing judge issued a recommendation that the PUC approve Minneapolis' pilot project for inclusive energy financing. The Judge also called to the PUC to take up the bold and necessary interpretation that the PUC should allow "a thousand flowers bloom" when it comes to energy efficiency.
*** Want to see the Judges recommendation (or read the comments which Community Power's submitted thus far)? Click here and in the row that says “Docket Number” choose 19 in the drop-down menu, and type in 524 as the number. Judge Lipman's Recommendation will be listed as the only document submitted on November 20th. You can find the 3 Comments which Community Power contributed to the discussion by scrolling to the dates of August 21st, October 7th, and December 7th.
STOPPING NEW FOSSIL GAS
- Drawing a Line in the Sand on Energy We Can't Afford: We are active coalition partners in the Energy We Can’t Afford Coalition that focuses on removing fossil gas from the conversation in Xcel's IRP. The Coalition has now submitted at least 3000 comments contesting Xcel’s plans to build a new fossil gas plant in Becker, MN!
LOWERING BILLS FOR MINNESOTANS
- Cooperatively-Owned Solar takes off: We supported Southern Minnesotans connect with a member-owned solar cooperative to lower their electric bills and share in the any profits, including 30+ residents, an ice cream shop, a library, a Buddhist meditation center, a Catholic church, and a prairie-restoration non-profit. (Shout-outs to partners CEF + MNIPL!)
- Energy Efficiency Cohort: We co-facilitated the first year-long Energy Efficiency Cohort that supported 10 community-based organizations to build a shared analysis on how to transform efficiency programs to center renters, households with low-income, and BIPOC communities. (Shout out to CEED, CUB, & Neighborhood Hub!)
CONTRIBUTING HUMOR AND ALIVENESS TO THE DISCUSSION
- Mr. Monopoly Speaks Again: We partnered with members of the Energy We Can’t Afford coalition to host a satirical interview on Xcel's 15-year plan with Mr. Monopoly-- also known as Mr. Moneybags, playing the role of a self-appointed spokesman for investor-owned utilities. Click below to watch and hear what he says about Xcel's preferred plan...!
LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR (CLICK BELOW)
LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR
There’s still so much to be done to advance energy democracy collaboratively in 2021. We are looking forward to:
Completing the adoption of inclusive energy financing to help thousands access lower cost energy solutions in Minneapolis as an example to be taken up across the state
- Supporting grassroots groups to reimagine energy efficiency programs to truly benefit moderate and low-income, renter, and rural households
- Informing regulators, legislators, and city councils on how to engage and take direction from the community for energy solutions,
- Connecting grassroots groups to crucial "grid modernization" conversations that stand to block or empower community energy projects
Expanding cooperatively-owned solar options that lower energy costs for Central Minnesotans in partnership with Cooperative Energy Futures and CURE,
- Developing the CLEAR bill, a robust, community-centered statewide energy policy that minimizes barriers to community energy and tackle energy burden (Clean, Local, Equitable, Affordable, Reliable)
- Asking candidates for Minneapolis in 2021 how they’ll support a CLEAR energy system on a local level.
- Pushing for the use of utility profits used to erase the utility bill debt of customers affected by the pandemic!
We ended the year with this week of Action and will continue similar activity into 2021: