Minneapolis eyes way to push utilities to be greener

By Maya Rao , Star Tribune Minneapolis:

Minneapolis has renewable energy in mind as it debates Xcel and CenterPoint deals.

As Minneapolis pushes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly a third by 2025, city leaders are debating what role their franchise agreements with utility companies should play.

The agreements, signed in the early 1990s, give Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy space below or along streets, alleys and other public rights of way in exchange for millions of dollars in franchise fees.

But the city imposes no renewable energy requirements in the contracts. Minnesota law doesn’t allow municipalities to make those conditions in franchise agreements.

City Council members last week voted to create a work group to help determine the city’s future with Xcel and CenterPoint, whose agreements expire at the end of 2014. Officials expect to examine a range of possibilities, including pressing the state to give cities more authority in their utility agreements, reducing the span of agreements to just a couple of years rather than decades and having the city take over providing utilities… Read more

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