Energy Options campaign

Residents should support a resolution to include a referendum for municipal power.

by Daily Editorial Board

The Minneapolis Energy Options campaign has worked to educate citizens and encourage Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party precinct caucus attendance to support resolutions to help make Minneapolis’ energy more sustainable and cost effective.

The resolutions would include adoption of preference for several options in the upcoming renegotiation with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy franchise agreements, with DFL support to place and pass a ballot referendum in November to authorize the city to pursue the option of municipal ownership of energy utilities.

Other options include support for tougher negotiations over sustainable energy adoption and shorter contract periods — the current contract has been in effect for 20 years.

The city recently adopted a plan to study the challenges associated with public ownership of the energy utilities, including what legislative changes would be necessary to implement other possible options. Under existing state law, the city would not be able to establish municipal ownership without voter approval and is severely constrained in negotiation authority. Passage of the ballot referendum as proposed by the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign would give the city approval from the electorate and remove the first of these obstacles to improve its negotiating position, even if municipal ownership is not fully realized.

Boulder, Colo., recently began the process to convert to municipal ownership instead of continued reliance on Xcel after a similar ballot referendum passed, despite Xcel and the Boulder Smart Energy Coalition outspending supporters by 10-1. Although there have been challenges, including litigation from Xcel over efforts to acquire infrastructure, Xcel has accepted a conciliatory stance and has substantially improved efforts to meet municipal sustainability goals instead of shareholder profit goals.