Minneapolis rethinks pacts with utilities
Posted: 5:23 pm Thu, April 4, 2013
By Drew Kerr
Tags: CenterPoint Energy, Dylan Kesti, Elizabeth Glidden, Jack Kegel, Laura McCarten, Minneapolis Energy Options, Minnesota Municipal Utility Association, Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy continues work on a new power substation east of the Hiawatha Avenue and East 28thStreet intersection in Minneapolis. City officials are backing legislation that would require the utility to disclose more information about its maintenance plans and system reliability. (STAFF PHOTO: BILL KLOTZ)
City wants Xcel, CenterPoint to do better job meeting energy goals
The city of Minneapolis may be playing a game of brinkmanship as it works to get privately held electric and gas utilities to put more effort into meeting its local energy goals.
But as negotiations ramp up, it’s also putting real money toward the effort and trying to win the support of Minnesota lawmakers who could help them improve their hand.
Hamstrung by state laws limiting cities’ ability to influence energy policy, Minneapolis is pursuing a $250,000 study of the costs and challenges involved with a municipal takeover of electric and gas distribution. The study, approved by a committee of the Minneapolis City Council on Thursday, is expected to show initial results this fall.
The city is also backing legislation that would force utilities to include energy-efficiency goals, maintenance plans, alternative energy policies and quarterly reports on system reliability in franchise agreements with the city. Such agreements allow utilities access to publicly owned right of way in exchange for giving cities a share of revenue.
Officials say Minneapolis remains a long way from creating a municipal utility, a costly and time-consuming endeavor in which the city would purchase utility assets and assume control of electric or gas distribution.
But as Minneapolis negotiates a pair of expiring franchise agreements with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, it is getting more serious about following in the path of Boulder, Colo., and other cities where takeover threats are being used to advance local energy goals.
The City of Minneapolis has just announced a proposed city-sponsored study of alternatives to an energy system that isn't giving Minneapolis what it needs. The city coordinator wants the Council to authorize a study of energy options, including "state legislative or PUC rule changes, unique utility partnerships, changes to the way the City uses franchise fees or new City programs, and municipalization of one or both energy utilities."
This is a great step to Move Minneapolis Energy Forward, and an important complement to a YES vote on Nov. 5 to give the city the authorization to consider municipalization of the energy utilities.
WE NEED YOUR HELP to get that ballot option in November by getting it endorsed in the caucuses on April 16.
Sign Up HERE to Caucus for MEO: http://bit.ly/Y02T0C
Read the Proposal for the City Study HERE:http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@clerk/documents/webcontent/wcms1p-106211.pdf
This time, their mission is getting University of Minnesota student support to help them change the future of Minneapolis energy.
MPIRG is teaming up with Minneapolis Energy Options to push the city to evaluate a range of energy possibilities before locking into a new long-term utility contract with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. Among the coalition’s top priorities are lowering utility rates, expanding renewable energy generation and increasing citizen control of the local energy system.
The city currently holds 20-year utility franchise agreements with Xcel for electricity and CenterPoint for natural gas. Both agreements expire at the end of 2014. As negotiations for new agreements develop, the coalition is working to bring MEO’s resolution onto precinct caucus ballots.
Campaigners have approached Minneapolis City Council members for public endorsements, campaign manager Dylan Kesti said. The coalition is also reaching out to small businesses and community organizations, encouraging members to present the issue at their precinct caucuses, he said.
Kesti said a number of City Council members have publicly endorsed the campaign. This may be because its resolution would not require the city to municipalize — or turn control over to citizens — its utilities, but rather list it as a possibility, he said.
A critical step in moving the campaign forward is getting our MEO resolution endorsed though the Minneapolis Caucus process.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 16, 7PM
WHAT: Precinct Caucus
WHERE: YOUR Neighborhood (locations TBD)
At the Precinct Caucus in your neighborhood, citizens gather to discuss issues and candidates, and to elect delegates to the next conventions. Whether you are a longtime caucus attendee or have never heard of them before, this is a great way to meet your neighbors and get involved on a grassroots level of democracy.
Register HERE to let us know you can attend your Precinct Caucus to introduce our resolution!
Ready to help the campaign bring this resolution further? Plan to volunteer to be a delegate to your Ward Convention at your Precinct Caucus.
Want to present a resolution but have questions? We will be holding caucus trainings in the coming weeks – more details soon!
Together we can secure a clean, affordable, reliable, and local energy future for Minneapolis!
~Minneapolis Energy Options
P.S. Presenting a resolution is just one way to get involved with the campaign. Plug into other MEO volunteer opportunities HERE!
In Minneapolis, energy costs are rising and energy pollution is causing significant local and global problems. In Minneapolis we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make cleaner, more affordable, and more local energy available to all in Minneapolis.
In 2014 the city of Minneapolis will be renegotiating a contract with its electric and gas utilities. It’s an opportunity to change the status quo as we embark on a conversation that will chart a new energy future for the city and its residents and businesses.
In this moment of great opportunity to negotiate new 20 year franchise agreements with Xcel Energy and Center Point Energy, Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) stands to keep our city’s energy options open so we can secure an affordable, reliable, clean, efficient, and locally-controlled energyfuture for all.
MEO is working to help the city meet our climate change goals of reducing citywide greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015, and 30 percent by 2025. We want to use our energy dollars to pay for clean, local, and renewable energy instead of importing polluting energy. We want to eliminate the human and environmental health impacts from polluting energy that disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color.
We can do this through increasing investment of local economic development in clean and green jobs that help us meet the City of Minneapolis climate goals and will reduce energy costs.
Join your neighbors & MEO as we work to secure a Clean,
Affordable, Reliable, and Local Energy future for all!
Ward 9 Community Forum with Minneapolis Energy Options
When: Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 @ 6:30PM
Where: Corcoran Neighborhood Organization
3451 Cedar Ave S. Minneapolis MN 55407
Take part in the movement and help move Minneapolis Energy Forward!
Join MEO HERE!
Check us out on Facebook!