Impact

 

Impact

Protecting Minnesotans from shutoffs: CUB was part of a coalition that won a moratorium on disconnections for customers of the state’s regulated utilities at the start of the pandemic. In 2021, we negotiated with the utilities to extend that moratorium through the end of April 2022 for anyone receiving energy assistance. Meanwhile, we have consulted one-on-one with hundreds of Minnesotans to help them avoid disconnection – or, if they were already shut off, to get their utility service restored. And we’re working with the utilities and state agencies to help get assistance to the many families that qualify.
Stopping Xcel Energy’s expensive fossil fuel investments: Despite its promise to go carbon-free, Xcel is planning to invest hundreds of millions of its customers’ money in new fossil fuel plants. CUB’s Consumers Plan presents a cleaner, less expensive, and less risky alternative for the Public Utilities Commission. CUB and allies already stopped the construction of one new natural gas plant, and we’re gearing up to demonstrate that Xcel can reliably meet customer needs without any others.
Fighting excessive gas spending during the February freeze: Minnesotans should not have to cover all of the extra $600 million that natural gas companies paid for supply during the Winter Storm Uri, which froze much of the midwestern and southern United States. CUB is fighting back in a case before an administrative law judge. We are demonstrating that the utilities spent carelessly, expecting customers to foot the bill, and will ask the Public Utilities Commission to prevent utilities from charging customers for hundreds of millions of their spending during the storm.
Fighting rate hikes: Xcel Energy, CenterPoint Energy, and Minnesota Power have all asked to hike their rates – some by as much as 21%. These increases will be unaffordable for many consumers if they are allowed to go forward. CUB’s advocacy helped reduce interim rate increases (see more here and here). We are lining up expert witnesses and preparing to intervene on behalf of customers in the rate cases for Xcel electricity and Minnesota Power.
Improving equity in energy conservation: With a cohort of Twin Cities community-based organizations and a research project for the State of Minnesota, CUB is improving energy efficiency programs to better serve renters; low-income consumers; and Minnesotans who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. From Red Lake to south Minneapolis, CUB partners with those most affected to reduce energy expenses, address persistent inequalities, and restructure energy systems.
Won a moratorium on disconnections and fees for the state’s regulated utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and protected Minnesotans from utility shutoffs.
With a team of top national experts, developed an alternative plan for a rapid, low-cost clean energy transition for Xcel. The Consumer’s Resource Plan, CUB’s alternative to Xcel’s 15-year integrated resource plan, will map the cleanest and most cost-effective electricity future for Xcel’s customers.
Won approval of utility data access that is essential to address inequities in utility systems. This year, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) adopted CUB’s proposed Open Data Access Standards.
Urged the PUC to address present and long-standing disparities in the energy system in its efforts to assist in the economic recovery from COVID-19. We are asking the PUC to ensure that any utility spending intended for economic recovery must help those most in need in the current economy, prioritizing initiatives that have a clear, measurable, and positive impact on BIPOC and low-income Minnesotans.
Continued the work of the Energy Efficiency Peer Learning Cohort. The effort examines how energy efficiency programs could better serve low-income households, renters, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities while helping community leaders understand how to take advantage of the programs that exist today.
Helped more than 300 Minnesotans to understand their rights, responsibilities, and resources to avoid disconnection – or, if they were already shut off, to get their utility service restored. When COVID hit, we quickly shifted largely to online communications, often talking with people through Facebook messenger.
Helped more than 1,700 consumers across Minnesota cut their energy bills, reduce their carbon emissions, and get involved in key energy policy issues through presentations and events – all held remotely for three-quarters of the year.
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.
Advanced energy data access for the public interest. In 2019, CUB 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.
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.
Protected consumers from millions of dollars in unproven spending on power plants as the primary advocate for energy consumers at the Minnesota Legislature.
Carmen consultSaved Minnesota households $150 and 1,500 pounds of carbon emissions per year on average with each individual energy consultation. That’s like each person driving nearly 2,000 fewer miles a year.
Sheekh tablingHelped over 1,700 Minnesotans cut their energy bills through presentations, events, and our signature utility bill clinics.
Power linesAdvocated for cheaper, cleaner energy options through a modernized electric grid, consumer-friendly rates, cost-effective renewable energy, and advanced utility pilots.
CUB presentation iconMade Minnesotans aware of energy policy decisions that affect them, and helped consumers make their voices heard in the process.
CUB helped 1,800 people save money on their utility bills, reduce their carbon emissions profile, and become more energy efficient through energy presentations, interactions at community events, and one-on-one utility bill consultations.
Won consumer protections at the legislature that would have otherwise allowed Xcel Energy to charge customers for a new power plant with nearly no regulatory review.
Represented the consumer perspective in task forces to ensure consumer protections in clean energy financing; increase energy efficiency; and maximize cost effective, renewable energy.
Made Minnesotans aware of pending rate increases that would affect them, and helped consumers make their voices heard in the process.

History

The Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota was formed in 2016 to advocate for Minnesota’s residential and small business utility consumers. The energy world is changing fast – with low-cost renewables, customer-owned generation, new grid technologies, electrification of energy uses like transportation and heating, and energy efficiency combining to dramatically change the world of energy and the policies and regulations that govern it. CUB was formed to advocate for consumers as these policies are being written to take advantage of the new opportunities for cleaner and more affordable energy and to help consumers understand the options available to them.

The Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota is based on the model of the very successful Citizens Utility Board of Illinois. CUB Illinois has been praised by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as the “gold standard” of consumer advocates and has saved consumers more than $20 billion since its founding in 1984.