New Statewide Advocate for Minnesota Utility Customers Launches Opening

Grassroots Organization Adapts Successful Model From Midwest Neighbor To Fill An Important Niche in Minnesota

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

Eric Howard, Fourth Sector Consulting, 928-701-1954, eric@fourthsectorconsulting.com

 

SAINT PAUL, Minn. (September 19, 2016) – Minnesota utility customers have gained a powerful new champion with the launch of a new statewide non-profit organization that will focus on lowering bills for residential electric, natural gas, and phone service.

Known as the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Minnesota, or CUB Minnesota, the organization will defend consumers through a combination of policy advocacy in the legislative and regulatory arenas as well as direct counseling to individual ratepayers on techniques that will curb their costs.  It operates as an independent and locally-run organization in close partnership with the Citizens Utility Board of Illinois. Illinois’ CUB, which has generated more than $20 billion in consumer savings since opening its doors in 1984, was instrumental in getting CUB Minnesota off the ground.

“This is a pivotal time for utility customers in Minnesota,” said CUB Minnesota Executive Director Annie Levenson-Falk. “Technology is making significant advances possible in energy efficiency, renewable power and customer control of our utility services – and Minnesota is reforming utility policy to take advantage of these opportunities. Right now, decisions are being made that will govern how utilities will operate for decades to come. There is key opportunity to save money and have cleaner energy, and it’s critical that consumers be represented. We’re committed to helping consumers capitalize on these opportunities, and we’ll make sure they get a fair deal.”

Before assuming her post at CUB, Levenson-Falk served as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Legislative Energy Commission, a bi-partisan, House-Senate body tasked with evaluating the state’s energy policies. Previously, she was Senior Policy Manager of the nonprofit Citizens League.

The advent of CUB Minnesota culminates more than two years of discussions among local philanthropic and public-interest leaders who identified an opportunity to supplement the state’s existing infrastructure of consumer advocates.  CUB Minnesota’s blend of macro-scale policy analysis and customized cost-savings advice administered directly to individual households is modeled on the formula that has achieved impressive results in Illinois. Start-up funds for CUB Minnesota were provided by the Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation.

“We’re thrilled to help incubate this critical new voice for Minnesota consumers,” CUB Illinois Executive Director David Kolata said.  “This organization will be an independent and authentic reflection of the state it serves – an attribute embodied first and foremost in Annie Levenson-Falk’s role at its helm.  But it also attests to the success of the model we pioneered in Illinois and to the fact that utility issues increasingly transcend geographic boundaries.”

“This is a good day for Minnesota consumers,” said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy, a leading a leading energy expert group, working to advance clean energy policy and technology. “We need an independent watchdog like CUB that will staunchly defend the pocket-book interests of Minnesota consumers as it joins us on the march to a clean energy economy. Consumer advocacy and environmental progress must go hand in hand if we hope to find creative solutions to our energy challenges in Minnesota, the Midwest and the nation. We’re glad CUB is here to help us create a clean, reliable and affordable energy future.”

In the organization’s first year, CUB Minnesota will fight for fair residential electric rates before state regulators, advocate for using utility data to save consumers money, and work directly with people around the state to help them understand utility options such as renewable power and energy efficiency, and to save money on their bills.

Visit www.CUBMinnesota.org to learn more about the group and/or join the growing base of supporters.

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Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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