CV | Lee Samelson: A City-Utility Partnership to meet Minneapolis' energy goals

The City of Minneapolis is currently working to form an innovative, first-in-the-nation city-utility partnership with Xcel Energy and Centerpoint by the end of 2014, as recommended by the Energy Pathways Study that the City Council unanimously adopted in March. The Partnership will be a formal agreement between the City and the utilities to mutually implement the City’s adopted energy vision for an energy system that is affordable, reliable, clean, efficient, local, collaborative and improves social equity. The city is negotiating the city-utility partnership agreement simultaneously with the new utility franchise agreements, all of which have a goal to be ready for a full vote of the Minneapolis City Council sometime in September.

Click here for a guide on contacting your City Council Representative on this issue.

We now have an opportunity to create a new national model for how cities, energy users and utilities can work together to build an energy system that meets our climate, justice, and local economic development goals.

Click here to sign the petition for Xcel and Centerpoint to sign onto the City-Utility Partnership Agreement

A strong case for a city-utility partnership is that energy programs will be most effective when the city can integrate its regulatory authority over housing and businesses and its neighborhood engagement systems with the utility’s programs, incentives, financing methods, and infrastructure.

According to the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan, two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from our electricity and natural gas use in buildings. This makes utility cooperation central to achieving the 2013 Climate Action Plan’s goals of having 10% of electricity from local and directly purchased renewable energy and 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. This April, Minneapolis has set a goal of 80% reduction by 2050 in order to match the IPCC standard.

Xcel Energy has made recent public statements to the State Legislature, the Public Utilities Commission, and in a letter to the City of Minneapolis, committing to be collaborative partners in meeting Minneapolis’ energy and climate goals. At the March 17th informational hearing before the House Energy Policy Committee, Xcel Energy regional vice president Laura McCarten stated:

“As you have heard Minneapolis has strong progressive energy vision it plans and we are excited to work with the city to help it achieve its goals. The municipalization debate of 2013 created opportunities really for Xcel Energy to build on our strong existing partnership with the City of Minneapolis.”

Establishing a City Utility Partnership with community advisory provides Xcel and Centerpoint a thorough opportunity to demonstrate that they are serious about being good partners with the City. By working with the City of Minneapolis and its communities, Xcel and Centerpoint can co-create new strategies for neighborhood-wide energy efficiency and community-owned renewable energy and demonstrate what is possible when utilities partner with the communities they serve. Xcel Energy has an opportunity to be a national role model for how a utility can empower local economic development and community benefit through shared power and shared benefits in a 21st century energy system.

Collaborating with Minneapolis will also help Xcel meet its own goals and mandates, for both the Conservation Improvement Program and the Renewable Energy Standard.

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Lee Samelson's picture
Lee Samelson