Though progress in tackling greenhouse gas emissions may be frustratingly slow at the national level, large city governments are diamonds in the rough where we see great climate policies being enacted. For example, we have the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan accompanied by the Minneapolis Energy Pathways Study. We must continue to work for policies that enable cities to meet their progressive energy goals. While it is a global issue we face, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put cleaner, more affordable, and more local energy on the agenda right here in Minneapolis. We need a clean energy partnership with strong community participation.
Right now is a prime window of opportunity to be asking decision makers in Minneapolis City Hall to arrange the anticipated city-utility partnership so that it is inclusive of community input.
The City of Minneapolis is currently working to form an innovative, first-in-the-nation Clean Energy Partnership with Xcel and Centerpoint by end of 2014, as recommended by the Energy Pathways Study that the City Council unanimously adopted in March. Minneapolis’ 20 year franchise agreements with both Xcel Energy (electricity) and Centerpoint (natural gas) expire at the end of 2014, so it is most strategically valuable for city-utility partnership be signed this year before a renewed franchise agreement is signed.
The partnership will hold both utilities accountable to advancing the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan, by marketing, tracking, coordinating, and reporting progress on clean energy activities in the City. If successful, the 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.
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. The community must be included at the table
It was a result of the grassroots Minneapolis Energy Options campaign last year that led Xcel and CenterPoint to both state strong interest in wanting to partner with the City. But in order for a city-utility partnership to provide Xcel and Centerpoint a thoroughly valuable opportunity to demonstrate that they’re serious about collaborating with the City to meet our adopted energy vision, the partnership has to be inclusive of deep community participation instead of becoming a closed-off layer of bureaucracy.
Page 52 of the Minneapolis Energy Pathways Study suggests providing an “advisory committee of businesses and community leaders” that helps guide and inform the decision makers within the city-utility partnership by vetting all proposed programs, goals and evaluation criteria. This advisory board would keep the partnership dynamic and accountable by suggesting new programs that have strong grassroots support.
What this means is that energy sector labor unions, clean energy experts, advocates for low-income residents, businesses owners, building owners and environmental advocates like MN350 should all be asking for a seat at the table as energy stakeholders in order to assure that this advisory committee becomes reality.
The advisory committee could be appointed through the City’s open appointments process, and operate like a number of existing City advisory committees. The Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee (CLIC), provides a good model.
As a guide to contact your city council representative regarding this issue please visit the website:
To host or attend a community education event to do base-building on this movement please visit:
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 increases local ownership and decentralizes 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.
Minneapolis Energy Options can serve as a model for cities around the state. For this purpose the campaign has taken on a new title called Community Power. Every community has a window of opportunity to evaluate what their energy contracts look like. Minneapolis has this opportunity now.
For more information, visit Minneapolis Energy Options / Community Power.