Support the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership on December 10th

Update: The Minneapolis City Council voted 13-0 on December 10th to restore the full $150,000 for the Clean Energy Partnership into the final 2015 budget.  The City of Minneapolis adopted Goals and Strategic Directions back in March which reads “We sustain resources for future generations by reducing consumption, minimizing waste and using less energy.”This is a Community Voices submission and is moderated but not edited. The opinions expressed by Community Voices contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the TC Daily Planet.Restoring the full funding for the Clean Energy City-Utility Partnership in the city budget this Wednesday will be a great step toward that strategic direction goal. City Council took an unexpected 7-6 vote on December 1st to cut the Clean Energy City-Utility Partnership budget in half from $150,000 to $75,000, before its board meets for the first time early next year.  Already, hundreds of community members have voiced their support for the Partnership, and called on the Council to restore this cut because they realize the following:Minneapolis residents and businesses spend $450 million annually on electricity and gas, and national research shows that at least 30% of our energy use is preventable waste. This Clean Energy Partnership is a long-term effort to move tens of millions of energy dollars annually back into the pockets of Minneapolis families and businesses, while creating local jobs with a special focus on neighborhoods suffering the worst effects of energy poverty. This Partnership has the potential to transform energy management for Minneapolis energy consumers enough to meet very aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and produce very significant savings to Minneapolis residents and businesses.  These benefits could amount to tens of millions of dollars per year. We don’t want to nickel and dime this work.  Important Opportunity! Take Action!We have a chance to restore funding for this crucial investment in long-term energy prosperity for the city’s residents and businesses! Continue Reading

Minneapolis and utilities establish unique “Clean Energy Partnership”

On Oct. 6 a public hearing took place at City Hall to review tentative utility franchise agreements reached between the City of Minneapolis and utility companies Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. The agreements, if approved by the Minneapolis City Council on Oct. 17, would set in motion a first-in-the-nation, public-private “Clean Energy Partnership.” Proponents said the partnership between the city and utility companies would aim to meet the city’s goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and make energy more affordable, reliable, efficient and renewable, as laid out in the city’s 2013 Clean Action Plan.Franchise agreements are negotiations to determine conditions in which private utility companies can use public property to provide services in the community. Fees are negotiated and paid by utility companies to the city, in exchange for the use of public right of way, such as streets and alleys.The previous franchise agreements between the City of Minneapolis and utilities were made 20 years ago, and are set to expire at the end of 2014; the agreements mostly covered public right of way issues. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | The Hypocrisy of Minneapolis Energy Options

On August 1st, a rally was held by Minneapolis Energy Options. The group alleges that Xcel Energy is not providing ‘green energy’ and therefore, is not a suitable electricity provider for the city of Minneapolis. Apparently, Minneapolis Energy Options believes that the City of Minneapolis would do a far better job in delivering clean, renewable, reliable electricity to the residents of Minneapolis without raising rates and we will all live happily ever after. Who are they kidding? Not many. Continue Reading

Midtown power play: High-voltage community clash

TTT revisits Xcel Energy’s Hiawatha Project continuing push to place electrical substations at Hiawatha Avenue and high-voltage lines over the Midtown Greenway. Despite reams of testimony and several “Friend of the Court” briefs being filed in what’s called a contested case, Xcel persists in its claim that additional capacity is needed in this area of the city. The guardians of that recessed corridor of walking and biking trails along the old railroad right-of-way north of Lake Street through the heart of South Minneapolis to the Mississippi, the Midtown Greenway Coalition (MGC), essentially say, Prove it. (Audio below) 
The MGC cites Minnesota’s rules and regulations for determining such need before the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issues the OK for erecting towers adjacent to and crossing the Greenway and stringing high-voltage lines to a proposed substation at Hiawatha. Lake Street businesses believe additional power capacity is absolutely essential, but they can see why Greenway folks – backed by their neighborhood members in Phillips (including Little Earth of United Tribes), Corcoran, Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods, among other friends, insist that, if the line is built, it could go underground just as easily as overhead. The issues and emotions run deep. Continue Reading

Hiawatha high voltage lines: Xcel proposes, community questions, council considers on Monday

During a pair of open houses on January 15 at Plaza Verde on Lake Street, Xcel Energy revealed details about its proposed Hiawatha Project — a plan to build two new substations connected by a pair of 115 kilovolt power lines in the Midtown area of South Minneapolis. Xcel says the new infrastructure is needed to “meet capacity deficiencies” amid increasing demand in the area and to update the area’s existing delivery system, which was designed and installed in the 1940s and 1950s. The project will add 100 megawatts of power. One megawatt can provide power for 750 homes, according to Betty Mirzayi, project manager for Xcel. Just days earlier, on January 12, community members, neighborhood organization leaders and public officials met in the very same room to air their questions and sometimes-common concerns about the project and to try to organize a united effort to work with — or perhaps against — Xcel on the issue. Continue Reading