Agreements with utilities would create first-of-its-kind Clean Energy Partnership

The City of Minneapolis, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy have reached tentative agreements that would establish a first-of-its-kind City-utility Clean Energy Partnership. If approved by the Minneapolis City Council Oct. 17, the partnership will result in the City and utility companies collaborating in new ways to help Minneapolis achieve its energy goals. These goals include making energy affordable and reliable for everyone while increasing energy efficiency, increasing renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gases.

A public hearing to discuss the tentative agreements is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 6, in Room 317 of City Hall, 350 S. Fifth St. The hearing will take place during the City Council’s regularly scheduled Health, Environment & Community Engagement committee meeting.

The Clean Energy Partnership agreements would establish a board that will include the mayor, two council members, the city coordinator and two senior officials from each of the two utilities. The agreements also identify the creation of an Energy Vision Advisory Committee, which would provide feedback on the board’s work plan and gather feedback from critical Minneapolis communities. The board’s work plan would be shaped by Minneapolis’ adopted Climate Action Plan and may include ideas such as:

What is a franchise agreement?

Many communities in Minnesota negotiate franchise agreements with utility companies to identify the conditions under which the companies are allowed to use public property to provide service to local residents and businesses. Utility companies pay a fee to the City — negotiated through franchise agreements — in exchange for using the public right of way such as streets and alleys managed by the City.

The proposed franchise agreements would have a term with a minimum of five years and a maximum of 10 with the potential to renew for up to 20. They would maintain the current level of franchise fees that the utilities pay to the City.

The current franchise agreements with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy, both signed in the early 1990s, expire at the end of this year. City leaders sought to use negotiations on new franchise agreements as opportunities to explore how Minneapolis could make progress toward its goals for sustainable energy, improved air quality, equity and green jobs. The resulting Clean Energy Partnership could be a new model for municipal climate action for other communities across the nation.

More information is available about the tentative Clean Energy Partnership and franchise agreements at www.minneapolismn.gov/energyfranchise.

Published Oct 2, 2014