Community Power is organizing a coalition of economic and environmental justice organizations, neighborhood associations, and climate groups. Community Power is deeply involved in the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership and related efforts that support the Minneapolis Energy Vision (http://bit.ly/2je0qDN) established by Minneapolis City Council in 2014.
Community Power will advance the following priorities in Minneapolis over the next four years. We
invite all Minneapolis 2017 candidates to publicly support these positions:
1. 100% Renewable Energy for Minneapolis:
a. Implement 100% renewable electricity across Minneapolis by 2030.
b. Implement 100% renewable energy across Minneapolis by 2050.
c. Secure 100% renewable electricity for Minneapolis city operations by 2021.
2. Create Energy Access for All:
a. Bring Inclusive Financing for energy improvements to Minneapolis so that all residents and businesses can make cost-effective energy upgrades with no upfront cost and no debt.
b. Building community solar gardens on City buildings while mandating access for low income Minneapolis families, and training & hiring residents of color.
c. Advance utility justice for renters by removing barriers to participation in energy affordability and efficiency programs, ensuring landlord compliance, increasing community engagement within rental properties and including energy performance in rental license tiering and rental advertising.
3. Fund the Clean Energy Partnership:
a. Use increases to utility franchise fees, participation in clean energy projects, and other ongoing revenue streams to secure dedicated funding for the Clean Energy Partnership.
b. Ensure that funding covers:
i. - at least one full-time, dedicated staff position to the partnership,
ii. - robust, city-wide community-led engagement in energy solutions,
iii. - mechanisms that provide universal access to capital for energy improvements requiring no upfront cost and no debt
iv. - comprehensive energy programs that benefit all users and make it easy to save money and energy
v. - Pilot projects to test renewable heating options such as anaerobic digestion, geothermal district heating, or renewable-powered heat pumps.
4. Review Clean Energy Partnership Effectiveness and Franchise Agreements:
a. In the second half of 2018, review Clean Energy Partnership progress toward meeting City energy goals, and define clear timelines and metrics for necessary course adjustment
b. Conduct a thorough evaluation based on Partnership effectiveness to decide to continue or terminate utility franchise agreements in early 2019.
Background Information on Positions
1. 100% Renewable Energy for Minneapolis:
* Renewable Energy includes wind, solar, run-of–the-river hydroelectric, ground-source heat, anaerobic digestion or clean biomass energy from organic waste or sustainably harvested organic materials. Renewable energy may include other sources if they do not produce net carbon or other hazardous emissions and if they don’t deplete existing resources or produce non-reusable waste.
Fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), nuclear energy (carbon intensive in fuel manufacturing and produces extremely toxic waste), waste burning (non-renewable, highly polluting and produces land filled toxic ash), large scale hydroelectric (which often produces substantial methane emissions under lakes and depletes its own capacity through sedimentation), and unsustainably harvested biomass or biomass burned in a way that generates hazardous emissions is not renewable energy.
* At least 16 US cities have already committed to a 100% renewable energy or renewable electricity standard within the next 15-20 years. Case studies of 10 are available at: https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/blog/RF100-Case-Studies-Cities-Report.pdf
* The Energy Vision Advisory Committee has already recommended a 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030 goal and a Net Zero
Carbon by 2050 goal to the Clean Energy Partnership Board. Committing to these goals in ordinance formalizes these positions.
* The Solutions Project analyzed what it would take to achieve 100% renewable energy for all sectors (electricity, heating/cooling, transportation, an industry) in each state, including jobs created (over 75,000 40-year jobs) and financial savings for Minnesota residents. You can view a summary infographic for Minnesota at http://thesolutionsproject.org/infographic/#mn and the
detailed technical archive behind it at: http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/WWS-50-USState-plans.html.
* Several cities have already achieved 100% renewable energy for their municipal operations by purchasing clean energy from the grid or owning and developing clean energy resources. Community Power identified two primary strategies that can achieve 100% renewable energy for municipal operations with net savings/revenue to the City:
* Community solar garden subscriptions coupled with purchasing Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from rural wind projects. The cost of the RECs is offset by the savings from the solar garden subscriptions.1
* Off-site renewable energy developed and owned by the city and private partners (scenarios exist with zero upfront investment) that sell energy to the grid (generating revenue for the city) but retain the RECs from these projects.
1 Community Solar Gardens themselves do not generally transfer RECs to the user (instead they transfer it to the utility) due to state regulations, so the solar garden alone does not create renewable energy compliance.
2. Create Energy Access for All
* The Minneapolis Climate Action Plan established goals of reaching 75% participation in whole-house retrofit programs in Minneapolis by 2025 (~126,300 households) and achieving a 17% reduction in energy use city wide by 2025. Achieving this goal will require an average participation of roughly 7% of Minneapolis housing stock per year (~11,800 households).
* Participation lags, significantly, behind these goals. According to the 2015 Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership report, 9.2% of 1-4 unit residences have received Home Energy Squad visits between 2009-2015, and less than 25% of those visited continued on to whole-house energy retrofits (around 2.5% participation in 7 years). Additional programs serving multi-family housing, low-income weatherization, and other residential customers brought participation to around 3,000 Minneapolis households in 2015, but this participation level is in energy assessment visits, not in retrofits. To achieve a roughly 15-times higher participation rate (7% whole-home retrofits per year) than estimates, we need to dramatically improve program access and ease.
* Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS)™ provides model for financing energy improvements with no upfront cost, no debt, and monthly payments lower than the savings they deliver. This model has been adopted state-wide in Arkansas and Kansas and by individual utilities in North Carolina, Kentucky, New Hampshire and many other states achieving a roughly factor five expansion of
existing energy improvement programs. By eliminating upfront cost and structuring monthly payments to be less than energy savings, this mechanism dramatically increases access to energy efficiency and clean energy for families. Community Power is working with City Council, utilities, financial institutions, and state regulators to bring this model to Minneapolis.
* Community solar gardens can create access to solar families without good solar access at no upfront cost and at annual savings of 5-20% on electric bills. From conversations with Minneapolis Public Works, we have identified that the City of Minneapolis has 3-5 suitable buildings that could offer subscriptions covering the full energy use of over 500 Minneapolis households while generating a modest amount of revenue for the City. The City should issue an RFP that offers these rooftops for solar garden development leases and requires developers to limit subscriptions to Minneapolis residents with a specific focus on low-income residents.
* The Minneapolis Sustainability Office has begun to develop and evaluate a series of white papers addressing basic energy standards in multi-family buildings. Minneapolis Renters Coalition and others are exploring options for ensuring tenants in housing with substandard energy conditions can initiate participation in low-cost programs to reduce energy use and improve home comfort.
These efforts that would synergize well with these current city efforts and the PAYS™ and community solar options.
3. Fund The Clean Energy Partnership
* The City of Minneapolis currently receives around $24 million/year from utility franchise fees that range between 3%-5% of customer bills depending on customer class (see http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/energyfranchise/index.htm) These funds go into the General Fund, and represent about 9% of the General Fund budget. Minneapolis energy users pay about $450 million/year for energy, yet none of these franchise fees has been dedicated to strategies helping them reduce energy use. City Council has authority to revise franchise fees at any time.
* Since the formation of the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership in late 2014, the City Council has gradually increased operating budget for City of Minneapolis staff to the Clean Energy Partnership, reaching around $285,000. Aside from initial investments in city operations improvements, like LED street-lighting, the City has yet to provide the partnership implementation funding.
* A $30,000 pilot program is providing a grant to three Minneapolis neighborhood organizations to pilot community engagement strategies to rental properties. Based on a community engagement strategy developed by the Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC), this pilot attempts to test a method for later city-wide use. Community Power estimates that an annual budget in the range
of $500,000-$1 million would provide adequate resources to support culturally appropriate community engagement city-wide.
* An increase of 0.5% to the franchise fees would generate about $2.4 million/yr in revenue, which could fully fund community engagement activities, City staff for the Clean Energy Partnership and Sustainability office, loss reserves securing tens of millions for energy efficiency and clean energy improvement finances through a PAYS™ model, program design upgrades to streamline
existing energy programs, and energy innovation pilot projects for the foreseeable future. These programs could deliver 10-30% energy savings for customers.
* Community Power is evaluating a strategy for city-owned off-site renewable energy that could meet a 100% renewable energy goal for municipal operations and also provide several hundred thousand, or even a few million dollars in revenue, annually. This revenue could be dedicated to cover Clean Energy Partnership activities, replacing or augmenting franchise fee funding.
4. Review Clean Energy Partnership Effectiveness and Franchise Agreements
* The Clean Energy Partnership formed in late 2014 as an alternative to the city exploring energy municipalization. The new franchise agreements are for 10 years and allows Minneapolis to give to terminate them after the fifth year (1-year notice anytime after year four) by a 9-vote majority.
* The Clean Energy Partnership is intended to be a collaborative space, but can be terminated at any time if the City does not feel it is moving towards the City’s ambitious energy goals.
* The 2015-2016 Clean Energy Partnership work plan helped establish a system of metrics, community engagement strategy, and stronger partner relationships, but did not perform on the order of magnitude needed to meet the city’s energy goals. The next two year work plan will be a crucial time to evaluate if the Partnership will deliver substantial and meaningful change in Minneapolis energy services or if it is essentially a forum for conceptual discussion.
* We believe the City Council should thoroughly review the performance of the Clean Energy Partnership during late 2018 and identify whether its utility partners are adequately delivering. This evaluation in consultation with the EVAC and the community engagement teams, should provide clear definition to the utilities on what needs to change in the Partnership.
* The City Council should evaluate continuing the current franchise agreement in late 2018 and early 2019 based on the results of the review of the Clean Energy Partnership. If the Clean Energy Partnership proves to be underperforming and the utilities refuse to clearly commit to the changes the city identified the City Council should revisit the other energy options identified in the 2014 Minneapolis Energy Pathways Study, including community-choice aggregation and energy municipalization: (http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/energyfranchise/WCMS1P-113782).