Xcel Continuing to Push Back on non-Utility Solar

In a July 31st  Star Tribune article, Xcel’s CEO revealed they will push to limit the growth of residential and community solar upon a claim that it would be almost twice as expensive as Xcel pursuing utility scale solar instead. The Star Tribune could have at least done some more work to research this claim. 

The recent study Xcel’s CEO was probably referring to was funded by the Edison Electric Institute and was prepared for a Walmart-family supported solar developer, both of which have a financial interest in reducing competition from distributed solar. 

 While Utility Scale Solar may produce electricity a little cheaper, its electricity is worth a lot less. This is because residential/ community solar is able to deliver power straight to the point of use while utility scale solar often requires the construction of expensive new high-voltage transmission infrastructure that is often controversial for communities they are built through. Other studies show how such delivery costs can cancel out the modestly better economies of scale utility-scale solar has at the point of generation. 

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Transforming Cartel Electric Utility Management, Maybe

Written by George Crocker, Community Power board member          

Many cities and towns, including Minneapolis, have “Franchise Agreements” with power companies that allow them to use public roadways and other rights of way for their electric lines or gas pipes.  In exchange, these utilities collect a specified amount of money on the utility bill of consumers within the municipality and pass that money on to the municipality.  These contracts also specify who is responsible for various aspects of repair and maintenance of the infrastructure, and have typically been for 20-year periods.


          The Minneapolis Franchise Agreements with Xcel Energy (electricity) and CenterPoint Energy (natural gas) expired at the end of 2014.  Three years ago, leadership from the North American Water Office and an allied organization, Grand Aspirations, recognized that these expirations provided an opportunity for the City to create pathways for energy management in Minneapolis that was much cleaner and more local, efficient, affordable, equitable, renewable and reliable than the energy services being provided by Xcel Energy and CenterPoint under state regulation.  We followed the lead of forward-thinking people in Boulder, Colorado, also in the Xcel Energy service territory, and began a campaign called Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) to explore strategies for reaching local economic and energy sustainability goals, up to and including a municipal electric utility in Minneapolis.

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Sample Letter to the Public Utilities Commission on Xcel's IRP

Comments/letters will be accepted until September 2, 2015.

NOW is the time to hold Xcel to its agreement to the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership!


The SAMPLE LETTER to send in begins below:




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Count On It: Adding Numbers will Add Heft to First City-Utility Clean Energy Work Plan

In late May, the nation’s first clean energy partnership between a city and its utilities released its first two-year work plan. It holds true to the notion that the city and utilities can work across a broad swath of energy initiatives in pursuit of increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy. And with some solid metrics, it promises to be an excellent tool for accelerating toward a clean, local, and equitable energy system in Minneapolis.

For background, the Minneapolis city-utility partnership sprang out of grassroots demand for more local energy decision making and was ratified in a signing in October 2014. Late last fall, Community Power board president wrote about the potential for this partnership, raising three key questions:

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Minneapolis making public and commercial building energy use more transparent

Published May 26, 2015 as a City of Minneapolis Press Release

A new analysis of the energy use of 365 public and commercial buildings in Minneapolis reveals that these buildings have the combined potential to save $11 million on energy costs per year and avoid more than 62,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by increasing their energy efficiency to reduce consumption by 10 percent. The City of Minneapolis’ new report analyzed the 2013 energy use of 194 commercial and 171 public buildings that submitted data to the City as required by the building energy benchmarking and transparency ordinance (building owners had until June 2014 to submit data). The buildings in the report include 98 million square feet of floor space and account for more than 1.5 billion mmbtu (million British thermal units) of total energy use, which is approximately the equivalent use of 47,000 houses or all of the households in south Minneapolis.

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