A few months ago, the City of St. Paul passed a Climate Action and Resilience Plan that commits us to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. But our ability to meet or exceed this goal depends on St. Paul’s utility provider, Xcel Energy.
Xcel Energy’s Plans
Last year, Xcel Energy proposed a plan—the Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP—that includes building a new fracked gas power plant in 2026 that will make us dependent on fossil fuel power for decades to come. Did you know that power plants are paid for by our utility bills even when plants are forced to close early due to economic or environmental problems? Xcel Energy shareholders receive guaranteed profits while we customers carry the risks of bad investments and pollution caused by burning fossil fuels.
The price of fracked gas is becoming increasingly volatile, but wind and solar energy generation is now competitive with fossil fuels, and the price of energy storage is dropping rapidly. In spite of these developments, the IRP contains no plans for building new wind farms and very little mention of energy storage, which will be required to fully transition to renewable energy.
The Public Response
Over the course of several public hearings, there has been overwhelming opposition to many aspects of the original plan, voiced by individuals, environmental groups, and the Minnesota Department of Commerce. After denying Xcel’s proposed purchase of the Mankato Energy Center natural gas plant, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which has responsibility for approving the plan, instructed Xcel Energy in November 2019 to revise their plan and rework their grid model.
The revised plan is due to be released June 30th, at which time the public can review and begin to submit comments to the PUC. During the following weeks, St. Paul 350 and other environmental groups will provide talking points to help with comments.
In September, St. Paul 350 will have a press release to present our pledge cards and announce the total number of signatures we’ve collected.
Now is the time for us to take a stand as a city for powering our communities with clean, renewable energy and stopping new investment in fossil fuels.