Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy is joining forces with the Metropolitan Council, one of the top 10 electrical consumers in Minnesota, to dramatically increase the council’s use of renewable energy in day-to-day operations.
Xcel Energy and the council have announced the creation of a green partnership focused on working together to produce and purchase renewable energy. It is designed to allow the council to operate its wastewater and transit systems exclusively on energy from renewable sources by 2040.
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two organizations creates a framework that will enable the council to buy 100% renewable energy from Xcel Energy. Purchasing 100% renewables is projected to achieve cost-savings for the council and help conserve public funds. The agreement also establishes a formal partnership between Xcel Energy and the council for the purpose of creating electric bus pilot programs, pursuing funding and sharing data with the goal of further advancing electric bus technology. The Metropolitan Council recently purchased its first pilot fleet of electric buses, which will serve the C Line, the bus rapid transit line currently under construction in Minneapolis.
“Minnesota has made tremendous progress to support clean energy and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, meeting our 25 percent renewable energy goal seven years ahead of schedule,” says Gov. Mark Dayton, D-Minn. “This new partnership between the Metropolitan Council and Xcel Energy continues Minnesota’s nation-leading efforts to conserve energy, save taxpayer dollars and support a strong clean energy economy.”
“This technology is coming of age,” notes Alene Tchourumoff, chair of the Metropolitan Council. “We are at the point where renewable energy either costs the same as traditionally generated power or even offers a savings over the long term. 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.”
The Metropolitan Council operates the region’s wastewater treatment and transit system. In total, the council purchases about 245,000 MWh of electricity every year – enough to power 25,000 homes in Minnesota. In recent years, the council has pursued significant investments in advancing solar and self-generation technology to recapture and use the heat and other biproducts of its treatment processes.
The council expects to subscribe Xcel Energy’s Renewable*Connect program to power its metro area wastewater treatment plant (assuming the terms are favorable to the council). The plant, the largest of the eight treatment facilities the council operates, uses enough electricity every year to power 10,000 homes. This load alone makes up about 45% of the Metropolitan Council’s total electrical load. The council expects to contract for additional renewable energy every few years after that until it subscribes to 100% of its 245,000 MWh annual baseload.
The partners say the commitment to clean energy must be economically sustainable, as well. The agreement notes that the partnership should be advantageous to the council and Xcel Energy and that it should not in any way disadvantage other Xcel Energy ratepayers.
Separately, in Colorado, Xcel Energy recently announced a significant clean energy plan to invest billions of dollars in wind, solar and battery storage, as well as retire one-third of its remaining coal generation in the state.