Clean Energy Partnership Board adopts 2015-2016 workplan

At its May 29th meeting, the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership Board formally approved its work plan for the years 2015-2016. Click Here to read the official City press release. The Planning Team of the Partnership along with the Energy Vision Advisory Committee has put forth a lot of dedicated effort into coming up with the work plan. 

The goals of the partnership are to reduce Minneapolis Greenhouse Gas emissions by expanding Minneapolis utility customer’s access to and use of clean/ renewable energy and energy efficiency innovations. It is guided on the principle that the City of Minneapolis and both utilities can accomplish much more on climate and energy goals by collaborating with each other and taking advantage of each other’s complementary assets rather than the previous status quo where the city and both utilities worked in isolation from each other. 

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Xcel takes action to slow Community Solar Garden megawatts added

On Tuesday April 28th, Xcel Energy announced they will take unilateral action to disallow Community Solar Garden (CSG) developers to group multiple projects for a total solar garden size over 1MW, in direct opposition to the Public Utilities Commission's ruling. Imposing this aggregate size limit of 1 megawatt would shrink their Community Solar Program by 80% from 560 megawatts (MW) down to just 80 MW

If Xcel’s filing puts in jeopardy the 80% of the megawatts from solar gardens planned for this year, then the solar developers will not be able to take advantage of the 30 percent federal tax credit before it expires at the end of the year. (Update: Congress has extended the solar tax credits for an additional 5 years in the federal budget bill. But before that deal was struck, developers expected congress would simply let the tax breaks expire and hence had great worry the bulk of these CSG projects might never be built as a result).

Community Solar has value far beyond that which is reducible to finance. It provides is a powerful tool for an overall democratization of energy and a rare chance for individuals to gain entry into the energy market. Community solar gives us a chance to end of the alienating perception of solar energy as being a niche market for a few and to instead enable clean energy to tell a story of economic equity, prosperity and a pathway out of energy poverty.

In 2013 the MN state legislature passed the community solar program with the intention of providing a solar option for renters, for property owners whose building isn’t suitable for its own solar array or for the average income who lack the up-front capital to own an entire solar installation. There is plenty of debate that utilities, developers and state regulators can continue to have about the structure of Community Solar in Minnesota. Xcel Energy does have some merit in not wanting to see large commercial subscribers “taking advantage” of a program that is intended to be more community based. Community Power does not want the story of community solar to become something that big corporations use to make money while others being charged more as a result. However it is concerning that Xcel Energy feels it can openly defy the Public Utilities Commission's previous ruling, as many developers have highlighted




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Speaking to the State House Committee on its Omnibus Energy Bill

On April 8th 2015, a sense of urgency moved me to speak on behalf of Community Power at a public hearing on the MN State House Energy Omnibus Bill HF843.

The alarming provisions of the bill I chose to speak about include halting new applications for the Made-In-Minnesota Solar and Solar Rewards incentive programs, repealing the value of solar tariff for community solar gardens, and changing net metering programs in a way that so that people making huge private investments in solar energy can be denied adequate compensation for the electricity they provide to the grid which benefits all customers.  

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Mayor Hodges announces the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge

Mayor Betsy Hodges’ announced a new initiative called the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge at her second State of the City Address at the American Swedish Institute in south Minneapolis on Thursday. For the remainder of 2015, the Minneapolis Climate Champs Challenge will announce one new challenge each month for residents to reduce their carbon footprint through easy, practical, everyday activities. The challenge will engage residents adopting new habits that help the city meet its environmental goals. This level of committed willingness from city leadership will be useful for helping eventual clean energy partnership programs be successful in accomplishing significant change.  

For April, the first month of the challenge, Mayor Hodges is asking residents to increase their recycling rates and encouraging sign ups for the city's new organics recycling program. 

“Each one of us can do something here to stop the progress of climate change,” Mayor Hodges declared during her speech. “Each one of us has a gift to offer the process. Each one of us has something we can do, that we choose to do, to make sure we have a healthy planet and people...We cannot leave anyone’s genius on the table.”



MNIPL presents Values Statement for Community Solar Gardens

"Wealth inequality has reached obscene levels just as the planet is choking on carbon.”

               - Terry Hokenson co-leader of MNIPL's Solar Team

Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) has held a press conference Wednesday March 18th on their statement of values for community solar project development to be done in an inclusive and egalitarian manner both socially and economically.

Community solar gardens (CSGs) present an ideal vehicle for MNIPL, a coalition of faith groups that value our fundamental interconnectedness with the natural world.    

One of the specific values mentioned is for CSGs to help increase congregational involvement in the climate movement and the development of renewables and energy efficiency.


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