I know there are lots of ways to change my personal energy consumption, but I’m also interested in advocating for change at the systems level. I’ve heard about the Xcel IRP, but don’t really understand it or what I can do to influence Xcel’s plans to invest in more dirty energy. Can you help bring me up to speed and share how I can submit feedback?
Why, thank you so much for asking. On a local level, the most impactful energy advocacy action you can take is submitting feedback of XCEL Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). This proposal provides a framework for a clean energy future and helps move our region toward a resilient economy with lower greenhouse gas emissions. They have a pursuit of producing carbon free energy in a cost-efficient manner. This plan largely decides how much of our energy will come from coal, gas, wind, solar, and nuclear, as well as the programs Xcel will offer for energy conservation and similar opportunities. Regulators are currently reviewing Xcel Energy’s electricity plan for next 15 years. IRP is also a means for public input to provide a balance to the narratives of the energy market, and give a voice to those who make up Excel Energy’s customer base. Read on to learn about some of the concerns about the plan and how to submit your feedback.
There are several community based organizations in the Twin Cities Metro that believe that while Xcel Energy has made recent statements and initiatives to address systemic racism, the disparities between white Minnesotans and BIPOC Minnesotans consistently occur. The most prevalent address the unequal share of the energy burden within the BIPOC communities, and lack of accessibility or scarcity of cost-reduction opportunities, including community solar and wind generated power. They would also like Xcel Energy to be more accountable to the disparities in pollution within BIPOC communities (60% of BIPOC neighbors are exposed to unhealthy levels of pollution and they are contributing directly to the pollution on Prairie Island with their proposed increase in nuclear production) and create a plan to ameliorate them.
You can review this comment from the City of Minneapolis. Within the document they outline their specific asks to Xcel Energy as:
- Maintain or improve the adequacy and reliability of utility service;
- Keep customers’ bills and utility’s rates as low as practicable;
- Minimize adverse socioeconomic effects and adverse effects upon the environment;
- Enhance the utility’s ability to respond to changes in the financial, social, and technological factors affecting its operations; and
- Limit the risk of adverse effects on the utility and its customers from financial, social, and technological factors that the utility cannot control.
The Xcel IRP Cohort Comprised of Individuals and Community Organizations throughout Minneapolis and Saint Paul have identified their concerns as
- Limiting energy burden on low-income communities
- Creating training programs for BIPOC workers with access to high paying, secure jobs
- Community education about the IRP and other initiatives
- Assessment of the practice of “bundling” electricity bills with rent and whether this results in a lowered overall energy burden for customers. Tenants in properties owned by private companies and by HUD have been made vulnerable to late fees and eviction due to this practice. Creating the understanding that energy burden should not lead to housing instability.
- Greater accessibility to energy assistance and clean energy upgrades
through engaging customers and asking where the challenges are
Fresh Energy, a local environmental advocacy organization summarizes their concerns with the plan here. They call for eliminating the addition of a new fossil gas plant as part of the plan and calls instead for investment in clean energy.
There are a variety of options for how to make your comment on the plan:
- Submit a 1-3 minute video comment here
- Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you include the “Docket Number 19-368” in the subject line and/or body of the email
- Go to: https://mn.gov/puc/consumers/speak-up/ and make sure to use the “Docket Number” 19-368
- Mail comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite #350, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 55101
I hope you’ll send in feedback and advocate for an equitable clean energy future in our state.