The Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Minnesota is a nonprofit advocate for Minnesota’s utility consumers. CUB was formed in 2016 to advocate for affordable and clean energy and consumer protections in utility service.
CUB has two main roles as a consumer advocate. Our first role is to be a voice for regular people in energy policy and regulation. Right now, energy industries are replacing decades-old infrastructure and transitioning to cost-effective clean energy, and decisions being made today will set the foundation of our energy systems for a generation to come. The clean energy transition should be a win-win-win for consumers, the environment, and the power providers, but there’s no guarantee that the public — especially communities that have long borne the negative impacts of our energy systems — will see the benefits of this transition. CUB pushes for a rapid, cost-effective clean energy transition and works to make sure that regular people reap the benefits.
Our second role is as a resource for people around Minnesota. Consumers’ energy options are complex and getting more so. There are energy conservation rebates; A/C cycling programs; and various rate options for your house, your car, and your solar panels. There are gas dryers, electric dryers, and heat pump dryers; and so on. There are myriad energy assistance programs, payment plan options, and programs to navigate. CUB helps people find answers to their energy questions, and we help people ask questions they don’t even know they should be asking.
Here are a few examples of how this plays out in our work.
- Consumer outreach and education: CUB’s outreach team provides individual consultations, utility bill clinics, and group presentations across the state. Behind on your bills and worried about being shut off? Want to reduce how much you have to pay each month? Interested in the latest in Minnesota energy policy? We can help: 651-300-4701, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Facebook Messenger.
- A rapid, low-cost clean energy transition: CUB advocates for utilities to quickly cut carbon while reducing costs to consumers. Our policy team intervenes at the Public Utilities Commission on dockets like Xcel Energy’s energy plan (the “integrated resource plan”) and leads frequent public workshops to explain the process, the regulations, and how the public can participate.
- Protections during COVID: In partnership with low-income advocacy groups, CUB is fighting utility shutoffs and fees during the COVID-19 pandemic. We won a moratorium on disconnections and fees for the state’s regulated utilities, and we’ve consulted with hundreds of people on their rights, responsibilities, and resources to avoid shutoffs.
- Data access to address inequities: CUB is advancing a petition for an Open Data Access Standard before the Minnesota PUC. The system-level data and information about utilities’ average residential customers, to which advocates typically have access, hides great variations and long-standing inequities in how the costs and benefits of energy systems are distributed. Understanding and addressing these inequities requires much more granular data. Similar data access allowed the Illinois CUB to uncover, for example, that low-income households typically pay more than their fair share in electricity bills — and would be better off under renewables-friendly time-of-use rates.
CUB is primarily funded by grants and donations. If you appreciate our work, please contribute today.