Consultants to help Minneapolis consider utilities options

Several steps are being taken week toward reducing the city of Minneapolis' dependence on fossil fuels.

The city is hiring consultants to examine the electrical and natural gas utilities that serve its residents. The $250,000 study will consider whether the city government should take over those services currently provided by Xcel Energy and Centerpoint Energy.

"We see our future where it is ever more important to provide energy from clean sources and to have a pathway to continue moving there aggressively. The question is how can that come about," Councilmember Elizabeth Glidden said.

The council this week also approved a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and will host a public hearing on the municipal utility proposal in August. The council is also considering putting the question of creating a municipal utility on this November's ballot.

Xcel Energy is reacting with concern. Such a referendum would be a "serious step," said Xcel Vice President Laura McCarten.

Minneapolis wants to reduce emissions by 30 percent over the next 12 years. McCarten said Xcel currently derives 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

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