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Minneapolis Moves Towards Sustainability with 100 Percent Renewable Electricity Plan

The city’s latest commitment also stresses bringing underserved communities into the fold, pursuing environmental improvements despite actions elsewhere in government.

Minneapolis Moves Towards Sustainability with 100 Percent Renewable Electricity Plan
Photo by John Robbart III (CC)
Minneapolis officials announced new targets on Friday for moving the city to 100 percent renewable electricity. The goal is for municipal facilities and operations to reach that by 2022, with the rest of the city fully complying by 2030.
 
The effort will be reflected by a shift to electricity sources such as wind and solar, instead of fossil fuels. The official resolution implied the time is right, noting that the cost of these more environmentally-friendly power sources is rapidly falling, and advancements in renewable energy fields are making it otherwise more accessible.
 
This new goal is just the latest move by the city to achieve a vision of a more environmentally-friendly culture for Minneapolis.
 
“Climate change is one of the gravest challenges we face, and renewable energy is one of the solutions,” said Council Member Cam Gordon, co-author of the resolution, in a statement. “This resolution builds on the work of our adopted Climate Action Plan, and will help us reach our aggressive goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050.”
 
That plan was established in 2013, with a 2006 baseline. It also had a stipulation about energy sources, though different from the goal just announced: it committed to the city to increasing electricity from locally and directly purchased renewables to 10 percent of the total consumed by 2025.
 
The city has also previously adapted an Energy Vision that states in 2040, Minneapolis’ energy system will be reliable, affordable, locally- and clean energy- focused for all stakeholders, to benefit the economy, environment and justness of the community.
 
That community aspect was especially emphasized within the recent announcement.
 
“An effective way to make sure that energy remains affordable and that our transition to clean energy meets the needs of those most marginalized and historically impacted by pollution is persistent, intentional community engagement from a wide range of people,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “Resolutions like the one passed today are more than just a statement of values – they’re a roadmap for shifting our systems to better serve all our neighborhoods.”
 
It’s been determined that some communities face more of the negative impacts of climate issues. Last year, the city moved to address that by establishing the Green Zones initiative, which focuses on improving health and economic development in communities most affected by pollution and other climate and energy-related issues.
 
Similarly, yet on the other side of the coin, the new resolution noted that some community members – including indigenous people and people of color – have been underrepresented in the energy field and marketplace. With that in mind, one of the city’s goals is to ensure all residents, regardless of race, income, wealth or other factors, have access to renewable energy.
 
“In addition to being the right thing to do for the planet, investing in renewable energy allows us to keep more energy generation revenue in the city and create jobs for Minneapolis people of color who have been historically excluded from the old energy economy,” said Council Member Steve Fletcher, co-author of the resolution.
 
Another point emphasized in the recent announcement was that this renewed and enhanced commitment to addressing a climate change issue is connected to actions taken – or not taken – at higher government levels. It was explicitly stated that the city opposes the rollback of climate policy at the federal stage, and that the City of Minneapolis is committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
 
“This resolution represents a strong statement of our values and our leadership,” said Council Member Jeremy Schroeder, co-author of the resolution. “Especially as the federal government undermines sustainability, and amid uncertainty at the State Capitol, we as a City need to hold ourselves accountable to building a future that reflects our commitment to a cleaner, greener future for everyone in Minneapolis.”
 
Also linked to the city’s revamped commitment is advocacy by the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign encouraging cities to make the move to 100 percent cleaner, cheaper, healthier renewable energy for all, and by the national youth organization iMatter, which brings young people into the discussion and into influential roles.
 
Minneapolis joins Minnesota cities Rochester and Saint Louis Park, as well as several other cities around the country in 100 renewable energy commitments.
 
Minneapolis’ new resolution directed the City Coordinator’s Office to produce a blueprint by the first quarter of 2019 that looks at a variety of aspects involving the goals, including potential policies and programs the city will have to implement; timelines, milestones and metrics; necessary regulatory reforms; and potential challenges and benefits.
 
Moreover, Minneapolis’ commitment places it among many other cities throughout the state and country with goals toward using entirely renewable forms of electricity. Those cities include Atlanta; Boulder, Colorado; Orlando, Florida; Madison, Wisconsin; Portland, Oregon; Rochester, Minnesota; St. Louis; Saint Louis Park, Minnesota; San Francisco; San Diego; and Salt Lake City among others.
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