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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Minneapolis City Council Passes Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution

We are thrilled to announce yet another milestone where our city councilors have taken courageous action for climate justice!

Our Coalition partners MN 350 have been mobilizing for a resolution for Minneapolis to endorse the divestment of financial assets from fossil fuel companies that use their windfall profits to lobby elected officials against clean energy solutions. See http://gofossilfree.org/top-200/   For more information on the campaign from MN350, click here.
 
On March 2nd, the 6 council members of the Health Environment and Community Engagement Committee (HE & CE) held a public hearing on this bold resolution and passed it unanimously.  Click Here to read the resolution language.

On Friday March 20th the divestment resolution passed the full City Council on an 11-2 vote. This is a win that reinforce the message to Xcel and Centerpoint that our City is serious about the "clean" in Clean Energy Partnership.

Minneapolis will be joining in with thirty-seven US cities, (including San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Ithaca, NY; Portland, OR; Boulder, CO; and Madison, WI, Eugene, Ore., Richmond, Calif., Berkeley, Calif.,) who have divested. 
We thank the 11 City Council members Minneapolis who have joined the fastest growing divestment movement history and helping the city live up to the promise of the Climate Champion award from the While House last year!
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Join the Longfellow Energy Fair February 7th

A big mission for Community Power/ Minneapolis Energy Options is to spread awareness about accessible programs and opportunities for communities to save money by saving energy while elevating public conversations about our energy future.

We invite people all over Minneapolis and beyond to attend the most exciting Longfellow Energy Fair on Saturday, Feb. 7, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Holy Trinity Church • 2730 E 31st Street, Minneapolis. The more people who can help spread the word, the better.    

You can Register for the event Here (There is a $10 lunch from Gandhi Mahal and Fire Roast Café included) Click here for a program overview. 

 

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E-21 Report Released Recommending New Regulatory Model for Utilities

An initiative called “E-21” (standing for 21st Century Energy System) has been tapping into a need for visionary planning on a transition to a new utility regulatory model for Minnesota. It involves Xcel Energy teaming up with the Great Plains Institute, Minnesota Power, Center for Energy and Environment, Energy Systems Consulting Services, George Washington University Law School, and additional participants in to.  

 On December 15th, 2014 the E-21 initiative released its Phase I Report on its consensus recommendations. Click here to download report.

 The central recommendation is to revise Minnesota statutes to allow utilities to opt into a multi-year, performance-based regulatory framework for ratemaking and incentives. 

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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!