Minneapolis: Clueless on how to run a utility

Minneapolis may drop homegrown utility and corporate citizen Xcel Energy

Xcel Energy Inc., the investor-owned utility that has been championed for its commitment to wind power by clean energy advocates far and wide, is at risk of being dropped as the electricity provider to this city, which is its national headquarters. Among other reasons, it is accused of not being sufficiently pro-clean energy. The $14 billion Fortune 500 company, which operates in eight states and has provided electricity to Minneapolis for more than a century, faces the possible cancellation of a franchise agreement that allows it to provide power to an estimated half-million residents and businesses in Minnesota's largest city and the economic hub of the 3.3-million-resident Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. The city's natural gas provider, CenterPoint Energy Inc., is also at risk of losing its franchise agreement with the city, which expires at the same time as Xcel Energy's contract in December 2014. If renewed, the utility contracts would lock in Minneapolis' electricity and gas providers for 20 years, until 2034, according to city officials. Should Minneapolis decide to divorce the utilities, it would become one of the largest municipal utility owners in the United States, alongside Los Angeles; San Antonio; Seattle; and Sacramento, Calif. A coalition of environmental and citizen advocacy groups known as Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) has pressed elected leaders to reconsider the city's relationships with the two utility giants on grounds that Xcel and CenterPoint are fundamentally profit-driven companies that have not done enough to hold down electricity rates and improve their environmental performance.
Minneapolis mayoral candidates deeply divided over potential utilities takeover

Minneapolis has commissioned a $250,000 study of the energy systems to aid in franchise negotiations with Xcel and CenterPoint. That study will be completed after the first of the year and after the election that may have the utility takeover question on the ballot.

Comment: Note the anti-business sentiment expressed: "fundamentally profit-driven companies". It would be a giant mistake!


  1. Lessee....Minneapolis is going to get into the power distribution business just as Obama's anti-coal initiatives get moving. Even if they understood the business, which they obviously don't, they'd be getting into more than they could handle.

    The good thing is that a lot of those old Victorians still have an oil lamp or two and a fireplace. They'll need it. :^)

  2. What a bizarre thing to focus on.

  3. Xcel CEO speaks to: Speaking to investment analysts, CEO Ben Fowke says he expects Xcel to be the city’s electric utility for another 100 years.

    In remarks to investment analysts, Xcel CEO Ben Fowke said the utility looks forward to working with those in the community who want more clean energy supplied to Minneapolis customers — a major driver of the proposal to create a municipal power company.

    “I think at the end of the day we are going to sit down, work with the city, and I think everybody recognizes the cost and risk, the enormous cost for Minneapolis, to go forward with something like that,” Fowke said in the conference call about its quarterly financial results.

    “We have been a partner for 100 years,” he added. “I suspect we’ll be a partner in Minneapolis for another 100 years.”

    Fowke said Xcel is ahead of many of the city’s renewable energy goals, saying the company will achieve a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

    The remarks, in response to an analyst’s question, came as the Minneapolils City Council was holding a hearing on whether to push ahead with a municipal utility, a process that requires voter approval at the ballot box. The door is open for the city to kick out Xcel because its franchise to operate in the city expires at the end of 2014.

  4. Minneapolis utility takeover: Unions and businesses join forces against energy activists

    Unions and the business community joined forces Thursday to tell members of the Minneapolis City Council that they think it’s a bad idea for the city to take over the gas and electric utilities.

    The energy activists, though, also were out in force to say that a public takeover is an idea worth more study.

    After more than 50 speakers and three and a half hours of testimony, just about everyone at the public hearings had expressed an opinion except the folks who will vote to move ahead or drop the idea.

    City Council members did not speak during the session and will not vote on the matter until Aug. 15.

  5. Latest Push to create Minneapolis utility fizzles

    Many council members have voiced concern about how the city could afford to buy Xcel’s assets in Minneapolis, much less know how to distribute energy and handle large power outages caused by storms.

    1. http://www.startribune.com/local/minneapolis/219067391.html


Any anonymous comments with links will be rejected. Please do not comment off-topic