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CUB’s 2019 Year in Review: Protecting Consumers, Advancing Clean Energy

As I reflect on a busy year in Minnesota energy, I’m proud of what CUB has done to advance affordable, clean energy and consumer protections for Minnesotans. Here’s a look back on what we achieved last year and a glimpse at the work ahead.

In 2019, CUB:

  • Blocked a bill that would have shifted $467 million in electricity costs from Minnesota’s largest businesses onto Minnesota ratepayers. As the primary advocate for energy consumers at the legislature, CUB was instrumental in educating lawmakers about what this bill would do and preventing it from moving forward.
  • Brought a team of top national experts to work for Xcel Energy customers, developing the Consumers Resource Plan, an alternative to Xcel’s 15-year integrated resource plan that will map the cleanest and cheapest electricity future for Xcel customers.
  • Advanced energy data access for the public interest. In 2019, we filed a formal petition with the Public Utilities Commission to make electricity data available for research that can reduce waste, save consumers money, and cut emissions. Our petition for Open Data Access Standards is currently before the PUC. This petition follows a similar bill that CUB advanced at the legislature earlier in the year, which was passed by the House of Representatives.
  • Opposed Xcel’s purchase of a gas power plant in a manner that would have compromised consumer protections and could have ultimately cost consumers a great deal of money. The PUC agreed and denied the purchase.
  • Jointly led the Energy Efficient Peer Learning Cohort, a program to increase capacity of organizations who represent and work with black, indigenous, people of color; low-income households; and renters in the Twin Cities.
  • Helped over 2,200 consumers across Minnesota cut their energy bills, reduce their carbon emissions, and understand the latest in energy policy and trends through presentations, events, and our signature utility bill clinics.
  • Helped the average Minnesota household save more than $150 and 1,300 pounds of carbon per year through each individual energy consultation.
  • Advocated for utility performance metrics before the PUC, so it’s easy to understand how our utilities achieve objectives, and consider compensating them based on performance in the future.

We also helped to bring improvements to Minnesota Power’s CARE (low-income electricity rate) program; worked with Minnesota Power and other stakeholders on developing a residential time-of-use electricity rate; represented consumers’ interests on the PUC’s Distributed Generation Advisory Group, the University of Minnesota’s Inclusive Energy Finance Study Advisory Committee, and the technical committee for the State of Minnesota’s Solar Pathways Project; and more.

 

Looking forward

We’re looking forward to a busy 2020. Here’s a taste of what’s on the docket this year.

  • Defending Minnesota Power customers from a proposed 15% rate increase.
  • Finalizing the Consumers Resource Plan for Xcel Energy’s electricity future and making the case for cleaner, more affordable options and consumer protections before the PUC as Xcel’s integrated resource plan continues this year.
  • Similarly digging into Minnesota Power’s integrated resource plan, which is due to be filed this October.
  • Advancing data access as our petition heads to a hearing before the PUC.
  • Continuing to defend Minnesota consumers at the state legislature, promote the consumer benefits of cost-effective clean energy, and move Minnesota towards a clean energy future.
  • Ensuring that consumers see the benefit of millions of dollars of grid investments envisioned in utilities’ integrated distribution plans. Smart meters and other advanced technologies have the potential to reduce energy waste, efficiently use low-cost wind and solar power, and save consumers money – but only if they are properly used by utilities.
  • Making sure consumers are educated about their rights and their options.
  • Identifying program and policy changes to improve equity in energy issues in partnership with communities across the state.
  • Helping thousands of Minnesotans reduce the burden of their energy bills, get clean energy, and have a say in the decisions that affect their utilities. (Find us at an upcoming event, or invite CUB to your neck of the woods.)

And much more.

 

Become a member

If you appreciate this work, please become a member. Members’ support makes it possible for CUB to be an independent advocate for Minnesota consumers. Membership allows our services to continue to be free for everyone in Minnesota, and it bolsters our policy work to be able to say that consumers across Minnesota stand with CUB. You can join or renew today with a contribution of any amount.

Published on January 6, 2020

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Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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