Aug 24, 2020

Minneapolis Comprehensive Approach to Energy Efficiency

Paper written for ACEEE 2020 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings.


States, not cities, generally have jurisdiction over utility demand-side management programming, while cities often have climate and/or energy goals that are stronger than that of the state. This control vs motivation dichotomy leaves cities without municipal utilities feeling as though they have little opportunity to drive energy efficiency improvements. In addition, criteria such as cost effectiveness for state-approved utility programs do not necessarily produce programs that adequately incentivize participation in diverse communities within cities. But what if cities could go their own way on energy efficiency initiatives without upsetting the balance of current utility territories and ownership structures? What if this way could address energy efficiency in all building types with low-overhead and nearly unanimous buy-in? What if utilities could leveragethis when developing new programs?

Here, wedescribe how a Midwestern city, Minneapolis,hastaken advantage of the franchise fee policy and created a comprehensive suite of programs and policies that addresses energy efficiency in all existing buildings. The programs and policies tailor mostly carrots and a few sticks to both owners and occupants of residential, multifamily, commercial, and industrial buildings. Critically, the suite leverages existing utility programs and fills the gaps where such programs are not meeting the needs of unique communities and goals in the city. Overall, we show that a city without expresscontrol over utility programs can still maximize energy efficiency through programs and policies funded through a franchise feethat augment utility programs and how such experimental city programs can inform future utility program development.