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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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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