Minneapolis Fifth Ward candidates talk municipal energy, environmental concerns

April 10, 2013

What if Minneapolis just didn’t renew the 20-year contracts with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy that are coming up at the end 2014? Boulder, Colorado is on its way to do just that as they look toward terminating their contract with Xcel, joining cities across the country that have municipal energy utilities, such as Los Angeles, San Antonio and Austin, Texas and Moorhead and Rochester in Minnesota.Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO), a coalition seeking to expand the energy options in Minneapolis, believes Minneapolis needs to look at all our options. They held a forum with City Council 5th Ward candidates on April 9 at the Minneapolis Urban League, to talk about the possibility of municipal energy as well as other environmental concerns.

MEO currently has a campaign to get a resolution endorsed through the Minneapolis caucus process that would put a ballot question up for voters next fall about authorizing Minneapolis to “research, explore and pursue the option of converting our energy utilities to city ownership, if such a transition would create a more reliable affordable and clean local energy system,” according to the resolution.

Meanwhile, the city council is looking at pursuing $250,000 study that would measure the costs and challenges of municipal takeover of gas and electric. The measure was approved in committee on April 4th, according to MEO

According to a staff report from the City council, state law limits the city’s authority over utility in franchise agreements, but Minneapolis is seeking legislative changes to “allow negotiations with Xcel and CenterPoint to explore how Minneapolis could make progress towards its goals for sustainable energy, improved air quality, equity, and green jobs,” according to the report. The city also wants to pursue pursuing options “outside the existing franchise agreement structure, including, but not limited to changes to state legislative or PUC rule changes, unique utility partnerships, changes to the way the City uses franchise fees, and municipalization of one or both energy utilities,” the report states.


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Minneapolis rethinks pacts with utilities

Minneapolis rethinks pacts with utilities

Posted: 5:23 pm Thu, April 4, 2013 
By Drew Kerr 
Tags: CenterPoint EnergyDylan KestiElizabeth GliddenJack KegelLaura McCartenMinneapolis Energy OptionsMinnesota Municipal Utility AssociationXcel 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.


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Minneapolis Pursues Energy System Pathways Study

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

The Minneapolis Energy Options campaign explores affordable utilities.

MPIRG’s effort turns to energy for Mpls.

The Minneapolis Energy Options campaign explores affordable utilities.

The Minnesota Daily By Hailey Colwell

March 27, 2013

Although Minneapolis Public Interest Research Group members no longer carry around “vote no” stickers on their clipboards, they can still be found on the Washington Avenue Bridge asking students to sign postcards.

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.


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Spring Into Action: Caucus For MEO on April 16


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!