City Council approves study on pathways to cleaner, more sustainable energy options for Minneapolis consumers
Today, the City Council approved a proposal to draft an energy vision that details what the City wants from a sustainable, 21st century energy system. The action also calls for a report that explores the various paths the City could take to achieve its energy goals, including examination of potential utility partnerships, changes to how the City uses energy utility franchise fees, and the potential for municipalization of one or both energy utilities.
This action comes as the City prepares to enter into energy franchise negotiations with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. State law currently limits Minneapolis’ authority over utility in franchise agreements, however the City is seeking legislative changes to allow negotiations with Xcel and CenterPoint to explore how Minneapolis could make progress towards its goals for sustainable energy, improved air quality, equity, and green jobs. The City wishes to explore options to achieve its energy goals outside the existing franchise agreement structure.
Today’s measure helps frame the future franchise negotiations with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, as well as the City’s work to get more clean-energy options for consumers. The City currently has utility franchise agreements with Xcel Energy for electricity and CenterPoint Energy for natural gas. These agreements, which were signed in the early 1990s, both expire at the end of 2014. The City is in the early stages of preparing for negotiations for new agreements.
The measure allocates $250,000 to draft comprehensive “Energy Vision” goals and complete a thorough review of the options and implications of the various pathways to meet the City’s energy goals. Specifically, the Council action would:
Direct City staff to draft an updated set of “Energy Vision” goals for a future energy system. These goals may address the greenhouse gas intensity of the system, use and ownership of renewable energy, energy efficiency outcomes, reliability standards, affordability, and access to energy use information. These draft goals will be presented to the City Council by August 2013.
Direct City staff to conduct a study that provides an overview of the various paths the City could take to achieve its Energy Vision goals. City staff will provide a progress update to the City Council in November 2013, and a final report will be presented to the City Council by January 2014. The report will include:
A review of the current legislative and legal landscape;
An examination of existing municipal utilities in Minnesota and across the country (utility performance, history, shared models, etc);
A report on the “municipalization pathway,” to include the process and schedule, preliminary cost estimates to move down that path, how municipalization may help Minneapolis achieve its Energy Vision goals, and identification of any potential barriers.
A review of alternative pathways, which may include utility partnerships, state legislative or Public Utilities Commission changes, and how energy utility franchise fees may be used for City programs.
More information is available on the City’s energy utilities franchise agreements web page.
Published Apr. 12, 2013