New report tracks Clean Energy Partnership’s progress

Solar installations increased 40 percent in the city in 2015 compared to 2014. Photo courtesy of Sundial Solar

The city experienced a big increase in solar installations and Home Energy Squad visits in 2015, according to the first progress report on the city’s new Clean Energy Partnership.

The Clean Energy Partnership is a collaboration among the city, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy. The partnership is working on advancing the city’s environmental goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

The partnership has also established eight metrics to track the city’s clean energy goals, including annual greenhouse gas emissions, commercial and residential building energy use, local renewable energy use and Home Energy Squad visits, among other things.

Gayle Prest, the city’s sustainability manager, said data collected will help focus the partnership’s work.

“We’re going to look at this data to drive change in the city,” she said.

The most recent data available on citywide greenhouse gas emissions indicated that levels were down 7.5 percent compared to 2006, Prest said.

As for other highlights, there were 92 solar installations in Minneapolis in 2015 compared to 56 in 2014.

The partnership also promoted Xcel and CenterPoint’s Home Energy Squad’s services, resulting in a 68 percent increase in visits between 2014 and 2015. The Home Energy Squad helps homeowners find ways to improve energy efficiency, such as installing a programmable thermostat and LED bulbs, among other things.

Xcel and CenterPoint Energy also spent more than $1 million to help low-income customers improve energy efficiency in their homes.

The city is also collaborating with Siemens Corp. to analyze energy consumption patterns and figure out the best way to tackle its environmental goals. Buildings account for about 63 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions and vehicles about 37 percent, according to a recent report Seimens Corp. made to the City Council.

Julia Thayne, director of urban development for Siemens, told the Council that Minneapolis appears to have the most potential to reach its clean energy goals compared to other cities the organization has analyzed.

The city’s Clean Energy Partnership has been recognized nationally. The White House named Minneapolis one of 16 Climate Action Champions, citing the partnership and the city’s Climate Action Plan.