Resilient Minneapolis Project clears final hurdle

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Photo: BKBM Engineers

In 2022, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the Resilient Minneapolis Project (RMP) as an element of Xcel Energy’s larger Integrated Distribution Plan. The RMP is an innovative pilot project in Minnesota that will enable three Minneapolis community sites to install rooftop solar, a battery energy storage system, and microgrid controls on their buildings.

In April, this exciting project came a big step closer to implementation and Fresh Energy filed a letter at the Commission in support of the proposal. In our letter, we applauded Xcel Energy for its collaboration with three important community partners, Sabathani Community Center and the Minneapolis American Indian Center in South Minneapolis and Renewable Energy Partners in North Minneapolis, and noted the importance of Xcel Energy continuing to deepen its relationship with crucial community partners that serve BIPOC and other communities.

“Working with community is a crucial element of the clean energy transition. We must ensure that the opportunities and benefits of the clean energy economy flow to all communities,” said Shubha Harris, Equitable Policy and Affordability Consultant at Fresh Energy. “We’re excited that Xcel Energy has been collaborating with community partners to bring these microgrid projects to fruition.”

What makes the RMP project especially unique is that one of the partners, Renewable Energy Partners (REP), requested to own and operate the North Minneapolis Community Resilience Hub. REP’s desire to own the battery was initially not within the scope of the proposal, but thanks to funds available through the U.S. Department of Energy, REP was able to negotiate with Xcel Energy to own the project. By enabling this ownership, Xcel Energy is actualizing one of the primary goals of President Joe Biden’s Justice40 efforts, that is, to provide direct benefits to communities of color.

In addition to building community resiliency, these projects will give Xcel the opportunity to gain experience with developing and operating battery storage, microgrid controls, and the integration of these technologies within the utility’s distribution systems.

Fresh Energy is pleased to see the RMP project move forward. It is a good example of a utility and community partners working collaboratively to achieve a goal. These microgrid projects have the potential to serve as models across the nation as interest in microgrids is growing. As we work to further decarbonize our communities, these types of relationships and collaborative approaches to projects will allow us to work together to achieve our carbon-free goals.