CUB’s 2022 year in review

Published November 23, 2022

It’s been quite a year – and we have you, our supporters, to thank!

I am so proud of what we have accomplished together in 2022. The CUB community is a scrappy group, often going up against some of the largest corporations in the state. Together, we are dedicated to affordability, consumer protection, and a rapid transition to clean energy that benefits the people of Minnesota – and we are having an impact

CUB’s work is made possible in part by contributions from people like you. If you appreciate CUB’s work and want to see it continue, please support it with a donation today!

 

A short list of our achievements together in 2022:

  • We helped save Minnesotans nearly $60 million from the February 2021 gas price spike. During Winter Storm Uri, gas prices skyrocketed around the country, and Minnesota utilities spent hundreds of millions on gas supplies. CUB’s expert testimony helped to demonstrate that the utilities spent carelessly, expecting customers to foot the bill. Over utility company protests, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) required utilities to share the burden with their customers.
  • We brought energy efficiency, bill savings, and more to households in all corners of Minnesota. CUB teamed up with partners from Red Lake Nation; immigrant households in the Winona area (with Project FINE); Latinx organizers in St. Cloud, Mankato, Worthington and the Twin Cities (with Unidos); farmers from around the state; a consortium of Twin Cities local governments helping residents electrify their homes; and many more. At the end of the year, we’ll be providing our energy tips in six languages, and we’ve produced a series of videos to help with home heating and cooling, solar, avoiding shutoffs, and more. 
  • We uncovered CenterPoint Energy, Inc.’s $1.3 billion gain from a deal with a Texas company that benefited from the 2021 gas price spike. CUB research examined a merger involving the parent company of Minnesota’s largest gas utility and Energy Transfer, a pipeline company that made more than $2.4 billion during the brief price spike (and was subsequently sued for price gouging). This was perhaps one of the most egregious examples of the “tale of two economies” that we have lived through over the past couple of years, though certainly not the only such example.
  • We fought rate hikes. CUB brought national experts to testify against double-digit rate hike requests by Minnesota Power and Xcel. Minnesota Power also halved its interim rate increase after the company worked with CUB and our friends at the Energy CENTS Coalition. The PUC will make final determinations in both cases in 2023. 
  • We published strategies for energy efficiency programs to better serve renters, lower-income households, and Minnesotans of color. The Minnesota Department of Commerce selected CUB and our partners to conduct research into how to reduce inequities in utility efficiency programs, resulting in our report, Strategies for Equitable Energy Efficiency Program Design, A toolkit for two high-priority populations in the Twin Cities: Black homeowners and property owners renting to Latinx households.
  • We successfully pushed Xcel to allow mid-size solar to compete with utility projects. After advocacy by CUB and others in Xcel’s integrated resource plan proceeding at the PUC, Xcel will allow mid-size solar systems, which do not require transmission wires, to compete with utility-owned and other larger projects in bidding processes. This opens a market for these types of systems in Minnesota.

Looking ahead

One in nine Minnesota households was behind on their utility bills entering the heating season this year. Energy costs are continuing to rise, with fuel prices higher than they have been in more than a decade and utilities requesting double-digit rate hikes. At the same time, energy company earnings continue to rise, and shareholders continue to see increasing dividends. CUB is fighting so that energy is affordable for all Minnesotans, and so that the companies and their shareholders share the burden of today’s high prices. 

Some will use the current economic situation as an excuse to double down on traditional energy sources. In fact, the current economy only underscores that consumers will be best served by transitioning away from expensive and unpredictably priced fuels to renewable sources of energy.

We’ll keep working to address historic and persistent inequities in Minnesota’s energy systems, including by expanding access to conservation opportunities and to programs that prevent utility shutoff. 

 

Stand with CUB

If you support this work, please make a contribution today.

 

While the utilities can employ multitudes of lobbyists to sit at the legislature and the Public Utilities Commission, most Minnesotans can’t easily speak up in these forums. That is why we need you: to help us be a voice for regular people in energy decision making.

With your backing, CUB will be there to make sure Minnesotans are represented through 2023 and beyond.

As always, thank you for your continuing support. We appreciate you!

Annie Levenson-Falk

Executive Director

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Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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