The Clean Energy Partnership is Back on Track

We did it! Thanks to the hundreds of community residents calling their Councilmembers, close to 300 showing up to the marathon public hearing Wednesday (12/10/2014) night, and over 60 members of the public giving great testimony, we have restored funding to the Clean Energy Partnership and restored a significant portion of the proposed cuts to economic justice programs in Minneapolis. After 2 hours of inspiring public testimony, in which over 3/4 of speakers highlighted the connection between community power and economic justice goals, the Council voted 13-0 to:
  • Restore the Clean Energy Partnership to the full $150,000 proposed in the Mayor's budget (from a proposed cut to $75,000). Please note that this is still just over half of the 1% of energy franchise revenue (which is $29 million/year) that the Energy Pathways Study recommended be allocated to the partnership, but it's a start that gives the Clean Energy Partnership the staff capacity we need to start unrolling the big programs that will harness Minneapolis's $450 million/year annual energy expenditures to create clean energy, local jobs, and cost-savings for homes and businesses.
  • Recover $150,000 out of a proposed $180,000 cut to the One Minneapolis Fund. This restores most (but not all) of the originally proposed funding to support capacity building and leadership development among organizations engaging and supporting communities of color so that they can effectively participate in a wide range of city bodies and issues, including the Clean Energy Partnership.
  • Restore $25,000 as a limited increase in funding to support stable homeownership in communities of color. This is a much smaller increase than was proposed in the original budget, but it's a step forward.
Unfortunately, these changes were funded by eliminating two proposed new staff positions from the City's Communication Department that would have focused on engaging culturally-based and non-English media sources in important city issues. This was a big set-back for inclusion in the city. Cuts became necessary after the Council voted 7-6 to reduce the increase in the property tax levy. The same 7 Councilmembers (Reich, Fry, B. Johnson, Yang, Warsame, Goodman, and Palmisano) voted to approve cuts to these communications positions over a counterproposal supported by the other six (Gordon, Glidden, Cano, Bender, Quincy, and A. Johnson) to make the cuts to a $400,000 increase in the marketing budget for the Convention Center.
We didn't get everything, but protecting these key priorities for justice and sustainability could not have happened without the community rising up. We've made it clear that this is a big issue with huge consequences for economic justice, public health, and our community's future. We stopped a serious of cuts that would have dramatically hurt the rising tide of grassroots innovation working for clean energy and economic justice.
But let's remember that this is just a small step in a long journey. We didn't get anything new on Wednesday night, only preserved what we had already had in the works. These investments by the City of Minneapolis give us the capacity to work with community members across the city, the City government, and our new partners at Xcel and CenterPoint to achieve the systems change solutions we stand for. It's time to get to work on the action items we have proposed to the city for the first two years of the partnership.
Starting in January, Community Power will be seeking community volunteers to:
  1. Host a house party or neighborhood event for your friends and neighbors where we come out for an interactive discussion of our energy future as part of the Powerful Conversations Tour.
  2. Join or form a ward team of 3-5 community members in your ward who will stay in the loop with Community Power about the Partnership and communicate key updates and needs for action to your City Council member.
  3. Step up to help make the priorities of the Clean Energy Partnership into a reality
We're building out our organization to take advantage of these recent wins and plan for the long haul. We will be introducing our recently hired Community Power Coordinator next week. 

Please help us build a foundation for clean, affordable, and local energy for all by stepping up as a sustaining contributor or a one-time donor.
Thanks for all your support!

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