November 15 2013

Is the Era of Limited Energy Options in Minneapolis Over?

Until recently, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy have been the only options for Minneapolis residents to receive electricity and gas. Coal is currently the largest portion of Xcel Energy’s sources, while natural gas is the largest for CenterPoint Energy. The contract these energy companies have with the city of Minneapolis is coming to a halt in the next two years, and many are pushing to use this as an opportunity to shift to a new energy system.

The City of Minneapolis’ Plan for Sustainable Growth is a leader in setting strict goals to ensure this energy transition. One of the largest sustainability indicators is to reduce city-wide carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2025. In 2010, the City of Minneapolis reported that energy used in buildings, mostly heating and cooling, accounted for 65% of its carbon emissions. Thus, the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan calls for a 10% increase in renewables, such as solar and wind, by 2025.

Xcel Energy Distribution Plant on Hennipen Ave in SE Minneapolis

In addition to the City of Minneapolis, other organizations are taking grassroots approaches to reduce the city’s dependence on coal and gas. One of the largest ones is Fresh Energy, a local planning organization that, along with many other non-profits, is attributed to helping pass the 2007 Minnesota Renewable Electricity Standard. They are also currently working to shut down the Sherco Coal Plant, the largest contributor of carbon emissions in Minnesota.

Another leader in this fight is Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO), an organization that seeks to expand Minneapolis’ energy options beyond that of Xcel and CenterPoint to more local and renewable sources. They are currently working with both those in charge of the current energy infrastructure and the City of Minneapolis to:

  • Keep rates at or below their current levels;
  • Maintain or improve energy reliability;
  • Create a clear pathway to dramatic city-wide energy savings to reduce both costs and dependency on dirty energy; and
  • Create a structure and system for greater community ownership, control, and economic benefit in our energy system.

In more recent news, MEO critiqued CenterPoint’s decision to raise the basic residential charge by 87%, while dropping the delivery charge by 24%. As said by MEO’s Executive Director of the group, “We are concerned that the rate filing does signal an effort by the company to create some potential disincentives for energy efficiency.” By taking away the monetary savings customers obtain when using less energy, this decision would counter the fight many organizations are participating in to encourage energy efficiency financially for residents.

Minneapolis in the lens of massive electricity infastructure

Looking forward, a consensus among all organizations is that there must be attention paid to both the sources of our energy, and efficiency to which we use our energy.

Should stricter guidelines be placed on Minneapolis’ energy facilities? What would be the benefits of having more energy options in Minneapolis?

Credits: Images by Abbey Seitz. Data linked to sources.

Abbey Seitz

Abbey Seitz is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Design of Art in Architecture and minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Growing up in a small suburb of St Paul, Minnesota, she knew no different than cold snowy winters filled with snowball fights and summers spent swimming in one of Minnesota’s many lakes. It was there that she gained an interest for the urban environment. This interest brought her to study in Chicago, Honolulu, and now Minneapolis, where she has honed her studies; how we can design and repair our cities to be environmentally sustainable and livable. Specifically in Minneapolis, she is intrigued in investigating how livable communities can be created through complete streets, public transportation, and urban agriculture.

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 15th, 2013 at 9:22 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Energy, Engineering, Environment, Environmental Design, Environmental Non-Profit, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Is the Era of Limited Energy Options in Minneapolis Over?”

  1. Nathanael Says:

    When most of the energy load is heating and cooling, insulation can make an *enormous* difference. Superinsulation to Passivhaus standards should be standard in Minneapolis.

  2. Abbey Seitz Says:

    Nathanael, thanks for your input! I defiantly agree, the seemingly small adjustments we make in our homes can make a tremendous impact, and standards should be set.

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