Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership
Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership
Solution proposed by:
Community Power, a coalition of local organizations including: Grand Aspirations, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, North American Water Office, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, MN350...
In a Nutshell:
Through four years of community organizing, local solutions development, and local government leadership, the City of Minneapolis has developed a new decision-making body - the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership - that unites city government and utilities in managing energy infrastructure, program design, and energy efficiency and clean energy programs in the city.
Where and When:
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Envisioned 2011-2014, established and operational January 2015-Present.
Many cities have committed to deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and also have strong local economic development goals. However, in many cities, electric and natural gas utilities are responsible for around 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions, paralyzing cities' ability to act. Furthermore, conventional energy systems create little local economic benefit, producing few jobs and draining millions of dollars from urban communities.
The Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership integrates local government regulatory and policy-making authority with utility business models and program design through a decision-making body composed of 4 city government officials and two representatives from each of the two utilities, advised by a 15-member community advisory body. This Partnership has the power to directly change utility program delivery and community engagement strategy while building new programs, financing strategies, and regulatory policies to accelerate energy efficiency, local clean energy, and local job creation and economic development in the clean energy sector.
Community Power emerged as a coalition to ensure that all residents of the city had access to Clean, Local, Equitable, Affordable, and Reliable (CLEAR) energy. The coalition initially sought to secure deeper utility commitment to these goals through renegotiation of the city's franchise agreements, which govern the terms of utility use of public right-of-way. After it became clear that these negotiations offered little traction, the coalition launched a campaign, the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign, to push the city to explore forming a municipal energy utility. This risk of lost revenue brought Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy to the table to form the first Clean Energy Partnership in the US. Community Power continues to organize with local community residents to ensure that the Partnership advances specific strategies that transition Minneapolis to clean energy, reduce the cost of energy for low-income families, modernize our energy systems, and relocalize job creation and ownership of the local energy system. The Coalition is expanding this strategy to other Minnesota cities and coaching other communities nationwide based on the principle that change in the energy system requires competing decision-making systems, often provided by active city governments.
The Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership is an 8-member Board composed of the Mayor, City Coordinator, two City Council members, and two high-level staff from utility (electric: Xcel Energy, gas: CenterPoint Energy). This Board is supported by staff of the city and both utilities, and advised by a 15-member community advisory board approved by the Board. This community advisory body has so far managed a review process to identify the environmental and social metrics along which the Partnership will measure progress and develop a community engagement strategy to ensure utility programs and Partnership activities are informed by and accessible to the communities they serve. The Partnership allows collaboration that unites city regulatory power with utility programs, such as current efforts to ensure landlord compliance with energy efficiency standards by creating a Minneapolis Regulatory Services process to monitor energy standards in rental buildings and use the Xcel-Center Point Multi-Family Energy Efficiency program, which provides free and low-cost efficiency upgrades, to make required improvements. It also allows the utilities and the city to work together to secure state Public Utilities Commission approval for innovative pilot projects to invest in grid modernization, community-based energy demand management programs, on-bill repayment mechanisms that help residents finance efficiency and clean energy upgrades, and more. The Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership is possible because of robust community leadership through cross-sector coalition-building focused on all aspects of energy issues (eg. climate, health, affordability, modernization, local economic development, economic justice). Responsive local government leadership that is willing to push for meaningful utility response has also been essential.
While the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership has only completed its first year, it has already delivered: A program integrating existing energy audit and direct-install services with standardized contractor bidding for home weatherization at no cost to low-income families and with 0% financing available for home improvements. A new multi-family building program creating energy savings for landlords and tenants of large apartment and condo buildings. A program to replace all Minneapolis streetlights with LEDs. A new strategy for community engagement in energy programs based on meeting needs identified by communities as opposed to product marketing. A commercial building challenge building off of benchmarking programs to save energy in large commercial buildings. Grassroots community leadership has also used the Clean Energy Partnership to help secure: Accelerated approval of community solar gardens Xcel Energy commitments to cut carbon emissions 60% by 2030 and retire two of its largest coal-fired power plants.