Archive by Author | timothydenherderthomas

2018 CEF Annual Member Meeting: Board Election and candidates online

Thursday April 26th
Sunrise Banks Headquarters

2525 Wabash Ave, St Paul, MN 55114
Dinner and Meet and Greet starts at 6PM
Meeting Agenda starts at 6:30PM
Prize Drawings and Informal Mingling starts at 8PM
For members who are unable to attend in person, live audio of the meeting will be available by conference call connected to Sunrise Banks microphone system. While you won’t be able to taste our delicious food from Gandhi Mahal, or meet other members, it will be a good way to hear our keynote speaker, get updates on the co-op, and hear Board candidates pitch their candidacy for the election. If you want to dial in, please try:

Conference number: 1-888-585-9008           Key: 431-651-851

Members participating in the meeting by conference call will be able to vote in the Board election online. All members should receive an invitation to vote via online form on Tuesday 4/24 and may vote during the Board election period between 7:15PM and 8PM on Thursday 4/26. We ask that members review the CEF 2018 Board Candidate Statements and listen in as the candidates pitch their candidacy at the annual meeting. If you are a member, wish to vote online, and have not received an online ballot, please feel free to contact General Manager Timothy DenHerder-Thomas to request one.

Keynote Speaker: Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey:
CEF is excited to invite Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey as our 2018 Annual Meeting Keynote speaker. Recently elected in November 2017, Mayor Frey has already voiced his support for CEF’s vision at the Shiloh Temple launch event March 9 and has called for Minneapolis to lead the way on climate action through the Minneapolis Clean Energy Partnership. Mayor Frey will discuss how groups like CEF help advance city’s climate and economic justice goals and how grassroots efforts like ours can best leverage the power of local governments to secure a better energy future.

Major Annual Meeting Goals:
First and foremost, this is a celebration of the great strides CEF has made this year to make cooperative community energy a reality in Minnesota, and to look ahead to the exciting next phase as CEF builds out our first 8 community solar gardens offsetting the energy use of several hundred members. Join us in celebrating this historic moment in our journey to a cooperative energy future! A few more specific things we will cover include:

  • Get to know the co-op! Who are we, why are we, and where have we come from.
  • Learn about the co-op’s progress over the past year including member growth, new solar gardens, and capital secured.
  • Discuss highlights of the major opportunities and challenges facing the co-op
  • Invite members to get more involved in shaping where the co-op goes next
  • Make decisions about term limits for our Board of Directors, hear from Board candidates, and elect new members to the CEF Board of Directors.
  • Enjoy food, company, and great stories

Board Candidate Statements Available:

Nominations for the CEF Board of Directors closed on Sunday 4/22, and Board candidate statements are now available for review. If you are a member and voting in elections, please review the CEF 2018 Board Candidate Statements.

Thanks to our sponsors for helping make this event possible!


CEF Board Nominations are open through 4/15/2017

Cooperative Energy Futures is a co-op – that means we’re member-owned and democratically controlled. CEF is managed by a 9-member Board of Directors who are co-op members elected by members of the co-op as a whole. Once a year, CEF members get to elect – and run for – the Board.

Its time for the 2017 CEF Board elections! The actual elections will take place at the CEF Annual Member Meeting on April 20th.

CEF members are invited to self- nominate to run for the CEF Board of Directors. The CEF Board meets monthly to guide the co-ops directions and make key business decisions on behalf of the members. CEF Board members are elected for 2-year terms at our Annual Members meeting, which this year is coming up on Thursday April 20th, 2017. Any member can run for the Board, and this year, we have seven open Board seats, so its a great time to get more involved as a CEF Board member.

Learn more about what it means to be a Board member and submit your nomination here.

Edina CSG fully subscribed!

Cooperative Energy Futures, in partnership with the City of Edina and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light has filled the Edina Community Solar Garden with residential subscribers. The solar garden will enable 66 Edina families to offset their energy bills with credits from their share of the solar garden, which will be built on the roof of the Edina Public Works building in Spring 2017. The Edina solar garden will likely be the largest urban rooftop solar garden in Minnesota at the time that it is built and will serve as a role model for how local cities can use the large vacant roof spaces they control to host clean energy projects that benefit residents of their city. By hosting the solar garden and subscribing, the city of Edina and subscribers lead the way towards climate solutions that grow local jobs, clean energy, and community wealth. Read more news about the Edina Community Solar Garden in Edina Magazine and the Edina Sun Current.

Subscribers to the Edina solar garden will pay Cooperative Energy Futures each month for the solar energy produced by their portion of the array: if you subscribed for 2% of the garden capacity, you pay for 2% of its production each month. At the same time, Xcel Energy will credit each subscriber on their Xcel Energy bill for that same amount of production. Subscription rates are set so that each month, the subscriber comes out ahead while locking in their energy cost over the long term. The solar garden also contributes to Xcel Energy’s statewide requirements to provide over 30% of total energy from renewable sources by 2020. As members of Cooperative Energy Futures, subscribers are member-owners of a cooperative providing clean renewable energy to the grid.

The subscription drive generated more interest in subscribing than this first solar garden could accommodate, especially in the final month as the garden filled. Community residents who didn’t make it into this solar garden can join in in two ways:

  1. Joining our Waiting List to be invited to join a Community Solar Garden when one becomes available in your area
  2. Help us launch a new Community Solar Garden that you would be eligible for by recommending and connecting us with a potential host site. If you know a potential location interested in serving as a host site of a community solar array, you can send a recommendation to Solar Site Assessor Bruce Konewko at, (612) 568-2334.  Please include your name, contact information, the specific address (street, city, state, zip) of the site you are recommending, and a sentence or two about your connection to the site and its owner. Good solar garden sites are at least 30,000 square feet of empty space on a flat roof, or 1-5 acres of parking lots (for a solar canopy system) or open land. Large public buildings like schools and public works buildings, some large congregations, and large commercial or warehouse spaces make great roofs, as do open parking lots or fields.

General Manager’s Analysis of the 9/6/2016 PUC order on community Solar

The Public Utilities Commission formally released its order on the future of the Xcel Energy Community Solar Garden Program. I’m providing a quick summary and analysis for our members below, and you can read the full order here: puc-9-6-2016-csg-order

Switch to the Value of Solar Rate:

  • Value-of-solar (VOS) rate adopted for all applications starting 1/1/2017. While we don’t yet know the 2017 VOS, the 2016 VOS was $0.0995/kWh, as compared to $0.1174/kWh for commercial and $0.146/kWh for residential under the ARR. So by itself, this is likely to decrease value for residential and low-income CSGs substantially (bad for CEF members).
  • Xcel must use weather-normalized historic peak load capacity when calculating VOS (likely a good thing for CEF members).
  • Starting with the 2018 VOS, Xcel must use a location-specific calculation of avoided costs of distribution capacity. This will likely incentivize load-connected and urban CSGs that avoid more costs, and will likely result in a higher VOS for those projects (this starts to accurately value the added efficiency of truly distributed (load-connected) energy. However, this won’t come into effect until 2018 garden applications.
  • A garden application that is deemed complete in a given year will be applicable for the VOS of that given year (regardless of whether it was applied for or completed in a different year). This provides very valuable clarity that is helpful to CEF and other solar garden developers.
  • Xcel must file their VOS calculation for the following year by Oct 1 of a given year (the clarity is also helpful, the timeline could be better and could be worse).
  • The PUC instructed the Department of Commerce to evaluate and report back by 3/1/2017 whether adders (up or down) would be appropriate for any of (these adders would generally help):
    • Brownfield sites or landfills (I assume a + to the VOS if anything)
    • Public facilities (I assume a + to the VOS if anything)
    • Commercial or industrial rooftops (I assume a + to the VOS if anything)
    • Prime agricultural land (I assume a – to the VOS if anything)
    • Directly in the communities the solar gardens serve (I assume a + to the VOS if anything)
    • Residential subscribers  (I assume a + to the VOS if anything)
    • Low-income residential subscribers (I assume a + to the VOS if anything)
    • Others the Department identifies as warranting modification or an adder
Low-Income Program:
  • PUC did nothing on almost all recommendations either positive or negative.
  • They did require Xcel to propose a low-income CSG program for LIHEAP-qualifying subscribers by March 1. Non-Xcel entities may also submit proposals for consideration, though it is not clear in what form or timeline these will be welcome.
  • The PUC’s inclusion of VOS bill credit adders to the Department’s review is relevant to benefiting low-income folks, but it is not complete/ final (see above March 1 timeline)
Other Decisions:
  • Co-location will remain at 1MW. This will hurt big out of state developers and should be fine for smaller community-based developers.
  • The $1 million material upgrade limit (the max a developer is allowed to pay for transmission upgrades) has been removed. This has little impact given the 1MW max because no developer will pay $1million for interconnection upgrades for 1MW anyway.
  • There are a number of minor changes to the delays and timeframes allowed to developers to complete the projects. These are generally good and reasonable.
My take-home analysis:
  • On low-income provisions, not much good happened, but nothing bad happened (except the rate issues below). The process in 2016 did lay a foundation for future improvements in 2017 and beyond, so while we hoped for clearer and more ambitious improvements, we are making progress.
  • The big deal here is the rates. The current value and calculation method for Value of Solar is bad for residential subscribers and low-income people, and creates a major hit to the program starting Jan 1. However, if the Department of Commerce proposes (and the PUC approves) meaningful adders to VOS for residential and low-income (and possibly other feature) it could end up being a very good thing for CEF and other developers seeking to serve residents and low-income families. There are also other predictability elements of VOS and the shift to locational avoided costs that are in the long-run a strong improvement to the financability of CSGs. The big question for low-income and residential subscribers is what the adders will be and how long it will take the PUC to review and approve them. CEF is exploring how best to contribute to this process.
  • The CSG environment in MN will steadily be shifting towards small and mid-scale local and community developers and away from dominance by large out of state developers.
  • Xcel has to propose a way to serve low-income people and others can develop alternative proposals to the PUC if they wish. CEF is exploring how best to contribute to this process.

Join Us for the 2016 Annual Members Meeting

CEF 2015 members meetingCEF’s biggest event of the year is coming right up, and you’re invited:

  • When: Wednesday April 20th, 6-8PM
  • Where: Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55407
  • Who: All are welcome (that means YOU) to attend, only CEF members can vote, but you too can be a CEF member.
  • What: Meet cool neighbors, enjoy wonderful food, learn what CEF has been up to and where it’s going, hear former Secretary of State Mark Ritchie share his vision for the role of co-ops in a 21st century MN economy, share your ideas for CEF’s future, and elect new Board members!
  • How: All you need to do is be there. We’ll take it from there.
  • Why: Because community-powered energy is for everyone.

Run for the Board

Once a year, Cooperative Energy Futures brings on new Board members to shape the future of CEF. New Board members are elected at each annual meeting and meet monthly to guide CEF staff and make key decisions so CEF best serves its members. As the Annual Members Meeting approaches, we are inviting you to run for the Board. You must be a member to run, but if you aren’t a member yet, becoming a member is easy!

The CEF Board will have three vacant seats this election cycle. To run for the Board, simply fill out this nomination form (which also includes details about the role and commitment) by Saturday April 16th. You can also contact us if you have any questions about running.