Energy & Climate related bills passed into law this session

Energy related outcomes for legislative session. Click the link below for a list in progress! 

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Renters and Energy Policy Ideas for Minneapolis

Because the Climate Legacy Initiative passed by the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor unanimously in 2023, the City is finally funding local climate action at a scale needed to build momentum toward meeting the ambitious goals the city has on paper. This means it is time for a revived nudge to city leaders to make sure renters can be included in its benefits. Community Power has long been bringing attention to making energy efficiency programs more accessible to renters since we held listening sessions back in 2015 with the Corcoran Neighborhood organization from which the following policy ideas were developed. 

Following the Policy Ideas for the City to adopt there are a few points to ground them in:

1) Energy efficiency is a big livability and affordability issue for renters.

2) InquilinXs UnidXs recently has had an incredible win with properties involved in AG Ellison's lawsuit

3) Inclusive Financing for Energy Efficiency could remove the upfront cost and credit barriers if it is given a chance

 

In addition to TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase) a top policy recommendation is Prohibiting Rationed Utility Billing Systems (RUBS) at single-metered rental properties:

The city of Minneapolis should consider Prohibiting Rationed Utility Billing Systems (RUBS) at single-metered rental properties by amending Minneapolis ordinance 244.270 liability for utility service payments so that the landlord may only pass on the utility costs at single-metered buildings by including it into the rent or installing sub-meters so that the energy bills for each tenant reflects their usage. In Chapter 244.270, (the section listed for liability for rationed utility billing systems at single-metered rental properties), there have been no changes to this section of municipal code since the listening sessions in 2017. 

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Saint Paul Green New Deal Resolution

We are pleased to share that a St. Paul Green New Deal Resolution has been drafted by Sunrise Twin Cities and shared with city councilmembers. 

Sunrise TC, the local hub for a national youth climate justice movement, has also been reaching out to organizations including Community Power.    

If you reside in St. Paul, please take a moment to sign the petition for the St. Paul Green New Deal Resolution.

Here is the full text of the resolution as well as the cliff notes version / outline of the resolution.    

Because the text of the Green New Deal resolution is so thorough in policy ideas, as well as in its general vision for climate justice in Saint Paul, advancing the resolution would help the city in updating its Climate Action and Resilience Plan, due later this year.

 

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Public Hearings on Xcel's next 15-Year Energy Plan

Every few years, Xcel Energy is required to submit a 15-year Energy Plan to the MN Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to make sure they are not overcharging customers for infrastructure that is not needed. 

Through the early to mid 20th century, electric utilities were incentivized to build more power plants and infrastructure with a goal of making electricity universally available at an affordable cost. As a result, utilities (still to this day!) are guaranteed profits on the infrastructure investments they make by those who determine how much we pay on our monthly utility bills. Because utilities have an incentive to build more infrastructure than might be necessary for our energy needs, state governments such as Minnesota's now require utilities to submit an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) where the utility has to show how much energy customers will need and how they plan to meet it. The IRP process is intended to be a safeguard utilities against gold-plating and gouging  customers. Even though it is a 15-year plan, the state of Minnesota requires that utilities refresh and make updates to it every few years. The 15-year plan only sets the stage for about the next 5-years of utility action while the remaining 10 years sets a roadmap of where we expect the energy system to go which will inevitably be updated.

Since Xcel also has to make the case for how they will meet our energy needs in coming years, this is where we get to see the mix of renewable versus nonrenewable energy sources the utility currently has in mind for their customers in Minnesota.  

Along with this process comes a series of public hearings for the general public to weigh in. There is a new opportunity this year! Each of the in-person hearings listed below will have an open house for informal conversation with Xcel officials for an hour prior to the listed hearing times.  

For a brief summary on what is at stake Xcel Energy announced in February that their preferred 15-year plan includes

  • extending the 20-year operating extensions for the Prairie Island nuclear facility by 20 years (beyond 2033-34). 
  • adding two new gas peaker plants, "2,200 megawatts of what Xcel called "always-available" power by 2030"
    • "Last week, the company proposed building a gas plant in Cass County in North Dakota and another in Minnesota's Lyon County; they would begin operating in 2027 and 2028" (both would be peakers. 
    • This will be heavily scrutinized by clean energy organizations in terms of Xcel’s ability to meet Minnesota's new carbon-free by 2040 law and likely settled in a different docket.  

On the renewable front Xcel's 15 year plan thus far also includes:

  • By 2023, it would seek 3,200 megawatts of new wind, 400 megawatts of large-scale solar and 1,000 megawatts of solar from other sources, including small-scale community projects.
  • Battery storage - 600 megawatts of battery storage by 2030, "aside from its plans for a novel 10 megawatt, 100-hour battery system at its Sherco energy complex in Becker"
  • Expansion of the utility’s energy efficiency and demand response programs, although existing demand response aggregation docket suggests Xcel is not really using demand response resource.

 

Click below to see public hearing dates and times! 

 

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Public Comment on CenterPoint's Innovation Plan

As the state's largest gas utility CenterPoint Energy is required by state law to file a Natural Gas Innovation Act Plan. Within it, CenterPoint has proposed 18 different pilot projects to make customer homes and businesses less reliant on fossil gas. While some of the pilots merit support and PUC approval (particularly Pilots L, N and I), other NGIA pilots should be opposed (Pilot P) or modified to be in the public interest.

What is at Stake? 

Because CenterPoint customers will be asked to pay for the NGIA pilots through a rider on our utility bills, it is important that we avoid Innovation Act Plan that commits customers to paying for diversionary solutions for decades. 

In 3 easy steps, you can submit a Comment by March 15th (Final Deadline May 15th). 

1: Send an email to [email protected]
2: Reference "Docket 23-215" in the subject line
3: Deadline 4:30 p.m. on 3/15/24

For a deeper guide for crafting your comments, here are some that the City of Minneapolis and the Citizens Utility Board have submitted as well as the Clean Heat Fact Sheet

Click below to see more.

 

 

 

 

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