On December 3, 2014, the White House and U.S. Department of Energy designated the City of Minneapolis as a Climate Action Champion.
This competitive award was granted to Minneapolis most specifically because the city signed an Agreement to create a first-in-the-nation Clean Energy Partnership with its energy utilities, Xcel and CenterPoint on October 17th 2014. This City-Utility Partnership has the potential to transform energy management for Minneapolis energy consumers enough to meet very aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan and produce very significant savings to Minneapolis residents and businesses. These benefits could amount to tens of millions of dollars per year through energy efficiency alone.
The grassroots Minneapolis Energy Options campaign of 2013 (now called Community Power) is what led Xcel and CenterPoint to both take strong interest in partnering with the City.
Individual big cities currently provide the greatest political hope for bold breakthroughs and visionary work on climate policies within the United States. Among these big cities, Minneapolis is the first to form a clean energy partnership with its utilities. If successful, the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership could set an inspiring new national precedent for how local leadership can influence shareholder-controlled utilities to meet mutual climate, justice, and local economic development goals, leveraging much-needed positive changes in the utility business model.
Dozens of Minneapolis residents voiced their support for the Clean Energy Partnership at a city budget public hearing in front of City Council on Wednesday, December 10, 2014. In the days up to December 10th, hundreds of community members called their city council member to support full funding from the Clean Energy Partnership.
As the Clean Energy Partnership begins in early 2015, it is time to get to work on the action items Community Power has proposed to the city for the first two years of the partnership.
We need the clean energy partnership to have strong community participation so we can help turn the priorities into a reality.
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. http://www.communitypowermn.org/powerconvo
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. http://www.communitypowermn.org/call_your_city_council_member
3: Statewide, we must continue to work for policies that enable more cities to meet their own clean energy goals and empower every community to take advantage of their windows of opportunity to evaluate what their energy contracts look like.
Why is MN350 joining this campaign?
MN350 is an organization that works to catalyze a climate movement in the whole state of Minnesota. So, why are we putting energy into a single city campaign?
MN350 strives to support campaigns that transition Minnesota energy sources away from fossil fuels owned by large corporations to renewable sources that increase local ownership and decentralize power. Minneapolis’ relation to both utilities is the crux of the city meeting its Climate Action Plan goals because 2/3 of our greenhouse gas input comes from our electricity and natural gas use.
We cannot maintain a status quo of reliance on dirty energy during a time when fossil fuel prices are rising while opportunities for local economic development around clean energy technology are expanding rapidly.