The outcome of our 2013 Minneapolis Energy Options campaign was that Minneapolis became the first US city to have a Clean Energy Partnership agreement with its existing utilities. In this new arrangement, Minneapolis local government shares power with utilities Xcel Energy (for electricity), and CenterPoint Energy (for natural gas) to chart the course of our energy future. As part of the same effort, the Minneapolis also negotiated new franchise agreements (these manage what the utilities can do in the public right of way) that were shorter term and enabled a better reporting to the City. The City-Utility Clean Energy Partnership agreement was signed by the all three partners on Friday, October 17th, 2014. This agreement, along with both new franchise agreements with Xcel Centerpoint were and later approved by the MN Public Utilities Commission and went into effect on January 1, 2015.
This decision was a major win for Community Power, but it is only the first step in the journey towards clean, local, equitable, affordable, and reliable energy. We will have to make sure the Partnership achieves real progress. Here's a quick look at what we won:
- The new franchise agreements are 10 years long and create clear authorization for the City Council to terminate them early any time after the 5-year mark with a supermajority vote of 9 of the members of City Council (out of 13 total) if the utilities do not make adequate progress in the Partnership. This creates much more flexibility than the previous 20-year agreements.
- The new franchise agreements have a fee structure that can be changed over the years to help fund programs in the Partnership that help save on energy costs for residents and businesses. The current franchise fees have brought in around $24 million/year to the city of Minneapolis.
- The Clean Energy Partnership Agreement created an 8-member Partnership Board composed of the Mayor, City Coordinator, 2 City Councilmembers, 2 Xcel Energy representatives, and 2 CenterPoint Energy Representatives and serve as a body to formally approve decisions around the future of Minneapolis energy sourcing, maintenance, financing, hiring, efficiency, and other programs. This board has held 4 public meetings per year staring on February 4th, 2015. Click here for notes from past meetings: https://mplscleanenergypartnership.org/meeting-calendar/
- The new Clean Energy Partnership Agreement also called for the formation of a 15-member Energy Vision Advisory Committee (EVAC) as a way provide community input into the Partnership which keeps it dynamic and accountable to its goals. EVAC helps develop the annual work plans for the partnership but also reviews and guides the implementation of those work plans. Community Power encourages any interested community member to apply to become a member of this committee every 2 years in order to ensure a wide range of community voices are represented. The first EVAC membership was publicly announced on March 17, 2015. EVAC has held its public meetings on a quarterly basis starting on April 16, 2015 – Click here for notes of past meetings - https://mplscleanenergypartnership.org/meeting-calendar/
- More Information:
Here is a list of key documents which the Clean Energy Partnership Board adopted:
Clean Energy Partnership Board Bylaws (adopted February 4, 2015)
2017-2018 Partnership Work Plan (adopted January 26th, 2017)
2015-2016 Partnership Work Plan (adopted May 29th, 2015)
Metrics for annual reporting (adopted November 16th, 2015)
Community Engagement Planning Process (adopted March 4, 2016)
2015 Clean Energy Partnership Annual Report (adopted June 3, 2016)
2016 Clean Energy Partnership Annual Report (adopted July 25, 2017)
How We Got Here:
This agreement we have now is the result of organizing by Minneapolis Energy Options (now called Community Power) in these following years:
- 2012: broad-based coalition-building with neighborhood groups, local business associations, environmental justice organizations, youth orgs, labor, and economic justice advocates.
- 2013: a massive grassroots campaign to push the city government to place an initiative on the ballot that would authorize (not require) the formation of a city-owned utility. We reached 65,000 Minneapolitans (pop 400,000), became a central issue in the City Council and mayoral elections, and were getting 2-5 media hits a week in Twin Cities media markets May-August. We did not end up getting on the ballot, but the process brought us major leverage on many fronts.
- 2014: deep community education (we've run over 65 popular education events engaging at least 650 residents) and grassroots advocacy pushing the city-council to take bold action on the energy vision it established in 2013. This culminated in getting this agreement.
- 2015 & 2016: continued community education, observation of & engagement with partnership to pressure partners towards accountability, equity, & comprehensive action.
- 2017: Educating and engaging candidates running for Minneapolis City Council and Mayor about our Clean Energy Partnership priorities by hosting 9 Candidate forums, having individual meetings with candidates and issuing a Community Power questionnaire. After the local elections, Community Power mobilized public speakers in support of a long-term reliable funding plan for the Clean Energy Partnerships broad work.
- On October 14th, 2015, the Partnership launched its Building Energy Challenge program to encourage energy efficiency improvements among various types of commercial buildings.
- On October 15th, 2015, Xcel filed a strategic system-wide plan to retrofit their existing streetlight fixtures with LED lights over the next 5 years. Mayor Betsy Hodges has allocated $400,000 in her 2016 budget proposal for LED streetlight conversions. The City will work with Xcel on an implementation timetable identifying priority areas for streetlight retrofits.
- In the fall of 2015, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy have jointly launched a streamlined multi-family building energy efficiency program. Energy users who pay utility bills to both Xcel and Centerpoint will now have a single point of contact for whole building energy efficiency opportunities and audits.
- In September 2015, the City of Minneapolis bought down the usual $70 cost of Home Energy Squad® visits and started offering them for free to income qualified residents though fliers sent out in municipal water bills. As an additional measure to encourage energy efficiency improvements in the residential sector, the City had also offered no-interest financing for any home insulation and air sealing upgrades recommended by the Home Energy Squad visits.