Mpls. Chamber, mayoral candidates slam city-run utility idea

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As city council members consider whether Minneapolis should distribute electricity and gas itself, more critics of the proposal to ditch private utility companies are speaking up.

The Business Journal reports the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce is urging businesses to show their opposition to the proposal at a Thursday public hearing in city hall.

Council members are considering putting a question on the November ballot asking voters if they want to authorize creation of a city-operated utility.

The issue is also becoming a flashpoint among the candidates in the mayor's race. The Star Tribune reports Mark Andrew slammed the municipal utility idea as reckless and irresponsible on Monday. Jackie Cherryhomes also issued a statement criticizing the proposal, the newspaper says.

Minneapolis' long-term agreements with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy are up for renewal next year. City council member Betsy Hodges said at a mayoral forum last month that Minneapolis should explore other alternatives before it locks into another long-term franchise agreement, Midwest Energy News reported.

Backers of the concept say the city might be able to distribute energy more cheaply than for-profit companies. Some also say a city-operated utility could be more aggressive in pursuing renewable energy. Last week Xcel's CEO said the company may move its headquarters out of Minneapolis if the city pursues the municipal utility idea.

Environment and Energy Publishing reports CenterPoint is in talks with one of the groups leading the push. Their report says if CenterPoint reaches common ground with Minneapolis Energy Options, that group will pull back on its call to municipalize natural gas distribution. MEO plans a rally in front of city hall before Thursday's hearing.

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