Minnneapolis Energy Options – an alternative to Xcel Energy?

Did you catch last week’s show? If not, listen to it here!

Our guests Louis Alemayehu and Dylan Kesti shared their vision for Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) – a coalition of organizations and neighbors interested in expanding energy options for the City of Lakes. MEO supports more conservation and energy efficiency, local renewable energy and democratic control of our energy system.

There are lots of ways to get involved with this righteous campaign:

  1. Log on to DONATE & VOLUNTEER: http://www.minneapolisenergyoptions.org/

  2. Host a House Party to get your friends and neighbors informed and involved with the campaign email dylan@minneapolisenergyoptions.org or call 612-627-4035 x305

  3. Attend the MEO Monthly Meeting June 11th at 6PM at Powderhorn Park

  4. Join in at the UpTown Neighborhood Conversation June 10th at 3:30-6PM at Common Roots Cafe 2558 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

  5. If you live in Minneapolis, call your City Council Member to support Minneapolis Energy Options and Vote yes to put our question on the ballot, and keep our energy options open.

  6. If you are connected with any organization, neighborhood group, place of worship, or other network that could help get the word out, schedule a time to talk with them about MEO in a meeting between now and July. If you want someone from the campaign to come in and give more information, notify dylan@minneapolisenergyoptions.org


Louis Alemayehu is a writer, educator, activist, poet, father, and grandfather of African and Native American heritage. He offers workshops and consultations on racism, culture, environmental justice and community building. His writing has appeared in national and international publications such as The International Process Work Journal, DRUM, the Transitions Network and the Energy Bulletin.  Alemayehu is a founding member of the seminal, award winning poetry/jazz ensemble,Ancestor Energy.  In 2009 the Minnesota Spoken Word Association presented Alemayehu an Urban Griot award for 30 years of excellence as a pioneering spoken word artist. In late 2011, Louis developed the concept of Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) with George Crocker and Timothy Denher-Thomas.  In 2012 the Process Work Institute in Portland Oregon certified Louis as a “World Work Elder”.

Dylan Kesti is the campaign coordinator with Minneapolis Energy Options a campaign to keep our city’s energy options open so we can secure a clean, affordable, reliable, and local energy future. Dylan holds a dual degree in global politics and communication from The College of St. Scholastica, and a M.A. in global environmental policy from American University based in Washington D.C. Dylan worked as an intern with the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. lobbying for a fair and sustainable farm bill. Most recently Dylan was teaching with the Higher Education Consortium of Urban Affairs (HECUA) as the Instructor to a semester long program on Environmental Sustainability. As an organizer Dylan continues to work for social, racial, and environmental justice in policy and practice as a policy advocate and activist. He is a co-founder of The Great Minnesota Outing, volunteers with Youth Farm and Market Project, and is a member of Sustainable Progress through Engaging Active Citizens (SPEAC).


Travel for Tomorrow: Eco-Friendly Tourism and Making Changes in the Hotel Industry

It’s not every day that you see a hotel using solar panels and trying to do something different with their water resources. However, hotels and other tourism businesses are really working towards a brighter future by making eco-conscious decisions. For many of these businesses, choosing environmentally friendly and socially aware practices began as a way to reach out to the community and also save on energy. There are a few initiatives around the world that should also be honored for helping to change attitudes towards energy conservation.

What are the latest innovative products, services and ideas for a sustainable future? The Eco-Innovation Europe initiative has been establishing the latest technology for an environmentally aware future by helping businesses and industry see the benefits of these products. The initiative helps the EU strengthen its goals for a more resource efficient future, and it also provides ways for businesses to better use their resources. In addition, the initiative focuses on the development of new products, services, techniques and programs specifically for reducing CO2 emissions and promoting waste reduction. The initiative has five main purposes however, which are: materials recycling and recycling processes, sustainable building products, food and drinks, water efficiency and treatment, and green business.

It’s clear that the major cause of pollution is the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which contributes to greenhouse gases. Automobiles, trucks, airplanes and many other vehicles are a main problem for the environment. As a result, the ESRI is partnering up with NAVTEQ and the City of San Francisco to take part in the Clinton Global Initiative. With this, they are changing the way that buses operate, using more efficient maps and route planning, as well as helping to fix road closures, construction and lessen traffic incidents.

You often see hotels displaying that they are “eco-friendly,” but to many, that simply means that they use recycled products. While this is a great step, there are certainly other things that hotels can change to be more eco-friendly. The Ritz-Carlton in North Carolina certainly thinks so. By installing low flow toilets and showerheads, they were able to better use resources and cut down on energy spending. The hotel also built an extensive rooftop garden that is home to a beehive with over 60,000 bees. This will help to pollinate the local area as well as provide fresh honey for the chef’s kitchen.

Recently, the Las Vegas Palazzo Hotel and Resort was named the “Most Eco-Friendly Hotel in America.” Many hotels can learn from how this one resort changed the way that it used energy and water. By installing self-sustaining water processes, reusing waste and using solar panels for heat, the hotel became a model of environmentally consciousness for other green Las Vegas hotels. That’s one of the reasons the hotel has grown in popularity over the past year. It is important that this trend continues and other business embrace green programs and practices.

The Shift To Solar

Minnesotans have new incentives to invest in renewable energy as a result of this year’s legislative session. An omnibus energy bill passed last month sets the stage for an expansion of solar energy for the state. It is modeled after the state’s earlier energy policies that led it to become a leader in wind energy, currently 14 percent of total power generation.

The new solar energy standard is the most exciting component of legislation. It requires four of the five investor-owned utility companies to provide 1.5 percent of their power supply from solar by 2020. 1.5 percent doesn’t sound like much, especially because the lobbying environmental organizations had the goal of 10 percent, but it is still something to celebrate. 1.5 percent means a shift from just 13 megawatts today to about 450 megawatts of solar power in the next 7 years. That’s about a 30 fold increase according to Midwest Energy News. What’s more, is that 10 percent of the new solar generation must come from systems that are 20 kW or less, signaling a priority to keep individuals a part of this energy transformation.

For the home- or business-owner this new legislation means more solar rebates and financial incentives from the state and energy companies. Just how they will work or what exactly they will be are still up in the air. Details of such programs will be decided upon in the coming months.What we know for sure is that a Solar Incentive Program for systems less than 20 kW will run from 2014-2018 and will be funded at $5 million per year by the Renewable Development Fund (for Xcel territory only), and the Made in Minnesota (MiM) solar modules incentive will continue, with $15 million per year provided from 2014-2023, including $250,000 per year for solar thermal systems.

The unfortunate reality is that only about 1/3 of all buildings meet the requirements to be able to hold solar panels, leaving some people who would otherwise invest in this new technology unable to get in the game. With this group in mind, a provision of the legislation allows for the development of community shared solar, or “solar gardens.” A group of individuals can invest in a shared system not more than 1 MW, as an alternative to installing solar panels on their property.

Other highlights of the legislation include: new energy studies on on-site energy storage, the value of solar thermal, and other miscellaneous energy topics to be completed by the Department of Commerce; Guaranteed Energy Savings Program contracts extended from 15 to 25 years on state buildings; and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing terms extended from 10 to 20 years.