Cross-posted from Solutionaries.net referencing a Minneapolis Star Tribune opinion piece published May 23: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/153296235.html
Last November, I sat down with a couple of long-time Environmental Justice organizers in Minnesota and had a conversation about Minneapolis's energy future. I had been notified by a environmental lawyer that the franchise agreements (20 year agreements that allow the major local utilities to use the public right of way to distribute electricity and natural gas to Minneapolis energy users in exchange for paying Minneapolis about $24 million annually) were expiring in 2014. In our conversation, we figured we should do something about it to ensure the next 20 years of energy development was founded on energy efficiency, clean energy, and community ownership of our energy system.
Fast forward six months and we have a coalition of a dozen groups leading the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign, support from many of our local elected officials, and insight into the many ways that state regulation partners with utilities to limit the options cities have taking steps towards more affordable, efficient, clean, and community-based energy development. We've learned of the work of dozens of other cities that have moved to take control of their energy purchasing, generation, and/or distribution, whether through innovative franchise agreements with cooperative utilities, community choice aggregation (which allows a local governments to choose what power they buy, distributed by the local utility), and forming new municipal energy utilities. We believe Minneapolis should keep its options open rather than locking in 20 more years of business as usual - we want to enable the city to explore the option of municipalizing while evaluating negotiations of the franchise with an eye towards enabling Minneapolis residents and businesses to take charge.
And recently, we opened that discussion in an Op Ed in the Star Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/153296235.html
Read more about what we could achieve and what this means for energy action, democracy, and how movements relate to markets: