The Metropolitan Council will use more renewable energy in the coming years after entering into a new partnership with Xcel Energy, it announced June 8.
The regional body says it will purchase about 45 percent of its electricity through Xcel’s Renewable*Connect program, pending state regulators approving a second round of the program. It plans on purchasing additional renewable energy every few years after that until it operates exclusively on energy from renewable sources, a goal it hopes to achieve by 2040.
“As one of the region’s largest consumers of electric power, we can help address climate change in our region by moving our entire baseload to renewable sources by 2040,” Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff said in a news release. “Our partnership makes sense financially for the Council, protects the environment, expands Xcel Energy’s portfolio of renewable energy sources, and ultimately contributes to the growth of our economy.”
The council said in the release that it expects to initially use its Renewable*Connect subscription to power its metro-area wastewater-treatment plant. The plant uses approximately 45 percent of the council’s total electricity load, which totals about 245,000 megawatt-hours annually.
According to the news release, the council in recent years has pursued investments in advancing solar and self-generation technology to recapture and utilize the heat and other biproducts of its treatment processes. The council is also looking for ways to use more electric vehicles as that technology becomes more cost competitive, the release said.
The council and Xcel Energy also established a formal partnership for the purpose of creating electric bus pilot programs, pursuing funding and sharing data to advance electric bus technology. The partnership comes after the council recently purchased its first pilot fleet of electric buses for the C Line, the bus rapid transit line currently under construction in Minneapolis.
Renewable*Connect allows businesses, government agencies and home owners the ability to utilize renewable electricity without having to install equipment to access it. The City of Minneapolis plans on purchasing 60.2 million kWh of electricity through the program by 2019.