Minneapolis Energy Municipalization

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Silophant
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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby Silophant » July 26th, 2013, 4:00 pm

Full Disclosure: I'm interning at Xcel Energy this summer. I don't like the concept of a for-profit utility, though, and I'd probably support the municipalization if it made any sense for Minneapolis, which it doesn't. All opinions are my own, and I can't vouch for the absolute accuracy of my data.
redisciple wrote:
Silophant wrote:Given that Xcel is the largest wind provider in the nation, and just proposed a new wind farm as big as the Monticello nuclear plant, to start construction, I'm curious exactly what strides you want them to make
How about, for starters, not lobbying against renewable energy requirements:

http://influenceexplorer.com/organizati ... dbaa4481f5
http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/0 ... rcentages/
Of course they lobbied against the solar requirement. Utility-scale solar isn't ready for this climate. It's only happening in Germany because of massive, unsustainable subsidies.
How hard is it to be the nation's largest wind provider when you cover most of the great plains? Still Southern California Edison, having contracted for the two biggest wind farms in the US, has to be close. Do you have a source?
Sure do. From today, even.

Xcel hardly covers 'most of the great plains. Even if they did, though, they'd still have to invest in hundreds of million-dollar wind turbines.
DaPerpKazoo wrote:No, I mean letting city-owned trees block traffic for close to two weeks....
If the city had been Xcel last month, do you think they would have been adept enough to get electrical service back as quickly as Xcel did?
Where was a traffic lane blocked for two weeks? I heard lots of complaints about Xcel after that storm, too.[/quote]
Of course you did. People complain when the power's out. Xcel brought in more than 1000 linemen to the south metro to get the power back on after that storm, and it still took several days. If they had tried to do it with the couple dozen that a service territory the size of Minneapolis would require, they probably would still be working on it now.
lordmoke wrote:Would going through with municipalization require the city to purchase Xcel's infrastructure from them?
Yep. All the thousands of miles of overhead and buried transmission and distribution lines, and nearly a dozen substations.
If so, what would the cost be, and how would it be paid for?
No idea, they'd have to work out a deal. Probably between one and three billion dollars just to purchase the assets.

In addition, interconnections between different utilities grids generally happen at substations. The handoff and metering happens at one point there, and then all the distribution lines to houses from that station are owned by that utility. However, since the metro area was all Xcel's territory when it was built, they built distribution lines to the closest substations, ignoring city boundaries. For example, parts of Linden Hills are fed from a substation in Edina. If municipalization occurs, the city will also have to pay millions more dollars to disconnect and reroute all the distribution lines that cross city limits. This will cost several tens of millions more.
What would the city's options be for purchasing electricity- would we just end up buying energy produced by Xcel (seeing as how they own most, if not all, production and transmission infrastructure surrounding the city), or is there another option?
Transmission line owners are required by law to carry anyone's power, for a regulated price. So, Minneapolis could theoretically buy power from anyone in the Upper Midwest. However, Minneapolis is a very large load, so the only Xcel is probably the only generation company that could immediately supply it. In addition, most of the other major generation companies in the area (i.e. Great River Energy, Minnesota Power) use a much greater percentage of coal than Xcel does. Alliant, out of Iowa, is pretty heavily invested in wind energy, but I don't know as much about them. It's unlikely they could supply Minneapolis's needs. All of the major wind farms in Minnesota are either owned by Xcel or contracted to them, as far as I'm aware.

Silophant
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Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby Silophant » July 26th, 2013, 4:08 pm

nordeast homer wrote:For those that want to participate, it sounds like the hearing is at city hall next Thursday at 10 am. The Minneapolis Chamber is encouraging people to come and voice their concerns as they, themselves are opposed to this and will be expressing their concerns for (in their own words) this needless issue.
Yep. Keep in mind that August 1st is also the day Mayor Rybak will be marathon-marrying hundreds of people in the rotunda, so City Hall will be a bit of a zoo.
widin007 wrote:Does this have any chance of actually happening? Or is this all just posturing? I really can't tell.
I'd like to think it's just posturing, and that the City Council will sanely vote down this enormously expensive boondoggle, but if you look through the Southwest LRT thread, you'll see that everyone, including me, thought the tunnel under a bike trail was also a joke proposal, and look what's happening there.

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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby lordmoke » July 26th, 2013, 4:22 pm

Thanks for the great info, Silophant! As much as I'd like to support this idea, it seems like a complete nightmare for the city. Now if the takeover happened on a STATE level, we might be going somewhere, but I doubt that will ever happen. Unless Floyd Olson rises from the grave and becomes our benevolent zombie overlord.

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Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby John » July 27th, 2013, 12:12 pm

Actually , City Council President Barb Johnson is opposed to the idea, and I'm sure there are at least a few other council members with common sense. It sounds likely it will go to the voters in November, but I'm optimistic this very unwise proposal will be voted down.

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Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby Wedgeguy » July 27th, 2013, 12:44 pm

John wrote:Actually , City Council President Barb Johnson is opposed to the idea, and I'm sure there are at least a few other council members with common sense. It sounds likely it will go to the voters in November, but I'm optimistic this very unwise proposal will be voted down.
I wish I had that faith that people in this city have intelligence, but then I look at NIMBY and say I think NOT!

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Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby John21 » July 27th, 2013, 1:35 pm

The city council looks ridiculous. They want to put this on the ballot in November? Before their 250k study comes out in February? This seems well thought out. Are Xcel and Centerpoint doing a poor job? Are they charging outrageous prices? This would cost the city a huge sum of money just to take it over, then they'd have to figure out how to run it. These 2 companies employ thousands in our city and are also looking to expand. They pay property taxes not only on their offices/yards but also everywhere their lines run. Silly.

web

Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby web » July 27th, 2013, 3:27 pm

Many cities have municipal owned systems......basically they "buy" the infrastructure along with people and equipment. All I can say for the last 13 yrs I have had "public" power and I have saved 50%....yes 50%.

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Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby Wedgeguy » July 27th, 2013, 5:06 pm

web wrote:Many cities have municipal owned systems......basically they "buy" the infrastructure along with people and equipment. All I can say for the last 13 yrs I have had "public" power and I have saved 50%....yes 50%.
May I ask what size of city are you from?

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Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby mullen » July 27th, 2013, 8:19 pm

city can barely pave the streets and fill potholes. mpls is 4 times the size of Boulder.

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Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby mullen » July 27th, 2013, 8:23 pm

make that 3 times.

web

Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby web » July 28th, 2013, 10:29 am

Sacramento proper

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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby Pete » July 28th, 2013, 11:58 am

Some great information here in helping me understand the municipalization issue. Hopefully the February study will also help.

My own opinion is that I would like to see the municipalization authorization for the City on the ballot. If it's voted in, it gives us another option and a bargaining chip with Excel. It doesn't mean we will become a public utility, simply that we can choose that path.

Excel could also negotiate with Minneapolis Energy Options and draft an agreement like CenterPoint Energy has done. The goal of MEO and what started all of this was not to create a public utility but to provide cleaner and sustainable energy.

http://goo.gl/KMsKM0
Pete in Seward

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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby Silophant » July 28th, 2013, 3:02 pm

Doing some research, it looks like SMUD, the Sacramento Power utility, charges about 10 cents per kWh in the summer, whereas my recent electric bill shows that Xcel charges about 11 cents/kWh. SMUD charges a $12 base fee, Xcel charges ~$15 in base fees. Your 50% cost savings must be coming from decreased power usage, because SMUD is cheaper than Xcel, but not that much cheaper.

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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby talindsay » July 28th, 2013, 3:03 pm

Being a lefty in the city, I think a municipal utility *would have* have sense, had it been enacted 100 years ago. Running public utilities in the public interest is a good idea, in general.

That said, this would be phenomenally stupid - the infrastructure they would have to buy would cost billions, before they actually provided anything new beyond the current distribution equipment. And the city wouldn't have the kind of redundancy that the large utility companies have - when power went out in the storm, Xcel could mobilize crews from three states away to come in to Minneapolis to respond. Meanwhile, trees are still down because the city's crews for that job are overburdened by it.

Also, we get some nice perks from the size of our utilities. I'm a customer of the Home Service Plus program by Centerpoint, which is essentially a group-insurance program on appliances and provides a good value on repairs and unexpected issues. There's a good chance that a utility serving just 400,000 people would not have the resources to provide this sort of service.

My fear is that city residents, many of whom, like me, prefer in a general sense that public things be run in the public interest, will vote in favor without really considering what it means. That would be a catastrophe.

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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby FISHMANPET » July 28th, 2013, 7:25 pm

So when do we actually vote on this? My understanding is that Minneapolis Energy Options was trying to get the DFL to endorse it, which would in theory mean that once the DFL endorsed candidates are in office they'll take the steps to put this on the ballot. So there's no way this is on the ballot this November, right? Right?

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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby Pete » July 28th, 2013, 9:12 pm

Here is information on the franchise agreement and potential ballot language (for this November) at the City's site.

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/energyfranchise/index.htm
Pete in Seward

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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby FISHMANPET » July 28th, 2013, 9:18 pm

So wait how did this get on the ballot?

And this just gives the city the power to do it, it doesn't actually force them to do it. If that's the case, I don't see why I wouldn't vote yes, I'm not against Minneapolis having the option, as long as a smart decision is made.

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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby Silophant » July 28th, 2013, 11:04 pm

It isn't on the ballot yet. The CC will vote whether to put it there on Friday, I believe. Soon, in any case.

The problem with having it on the ballot for this election is that this is the only chance the public has to vote on it. After that, it's entirely in the hands of the city council. And the election occurs before the feasibility study returns its results. If it goes on the ballot and is approved in November, and the study results are made public in February and shown that it's enormously expensive and nonsensical for the city to municipalize, the OMG-superprogressive-corporations are EVIL! wing of the council can still, potentially, make it happen, without giving the actual electorate another chance to have a say in it.

I'd be just fine with this vote going to the general election if it happened after the study results were in, so the voters could have some facts to work with. As it stands now, though, it'll pretty much be Xcel's word against MEO's word, and that's no way to decide something this important.

[Edit: progressive, not conservative. Guess it was opposite day last night.]
Last edited by Silophant on July 29th, 2013, 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

mullen
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Re: Minneapolis Energy Muncipalization

Postby mullen » July 29th, 2013, 7:31 am

yes the corporations are evil feeling is very strong in this town.

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Re: Xcel Energy HQ - (401 Nicollet Mall)

Postby Unity77 » July 29th, 2013, 9:07 am

web wrote:Many cities have municipal owned systems......basically they "buy" the infrastructure along with people and equipment. All I can say for the last 13 yrs I have had "public" power and I have saved 50%....yes 50%.
How many of those cities had a Fortune 500 utility company already based in their city? How many of those cities had additional Fortune 500 companies based within their city and how were those companies affected during the transition to city-run utilities?


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