Huge public debate surrounding possible public utility in Minneapolis

5:43 PM, Aug 1, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - Minneapolis City Council members have two weeks before they vote on a plan that could pave the way for a municipal utility owned and operated by the city. The vote they'll cast will simply be the next step in what could be a long process; if it passes the plan will go to the voters in November.

During a public hearing, hundreds packed into City Hall to offer their opinions.  Thirty-two people spoke against a public utility, as some were worried about power recovery after a storm. "Who are we going to call? Who's going to come help us?" one resident wondered.

Twenty-four people spoke in favor of exploring the possibility, often citing hope for cleaner and more affordable energy. "Business as usual will put us on the scrap heap of history," one man told the council.

Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy provide the city with electricity and natural gas. Both were present at the meeting and both had people speaking on their behalf.

"I think it showed that there's a lot of complexity and a lot of concern moving forward so we hope that the council will wait, get their study done and most importantly, that we can sit down with the city and try working together in addressing these issues," Xcel Regional VP Laura McCarten told KARE 11.

While there were dozens who complimented Xcel as a good neighbor and as a reliable and affordable source of energy, others were concerned that the supplier doesn't have any competition.

"So maybe there's a chance we can use this discussion here to say hey, we're broken, maybe we don't want to deregulate totally like California or other areas, but it seems like our system here maybe isn't what it could be," Council member Cam Gordon, the author of the resolution, said.

Council members say they have been receiving plenty of emails, letters and phone calls about this issue. They'll vote on whether or not to put it on the ballot in November, in two weeks.

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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