Monday, November 26, 2007

Twin City Energy Transition Working Group


● Brian Merchant reported that his article, “Have We Hit Peak Oil Yet?” appears in the new issue of Do It Green magazine.

● Philipp Muessig and Brian Merchant discussed their appearance on the November 21 “Truth To Tell” radio show on KFAI community radio along with John Farrell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance and Michael Noble of Fresh Energy. The hour-long talk-show was devoted to the subject of peak oil.

● Philipp also reported that he had responded to a request for topics from Public Insight Journalism with a recommendation that they address climate change and peak oil combined in society’s move toward a lower carbon future.

● Mary Morse provided an update on NEC’s continuing work on the MnZEB – Zero Energy Block project, and the Neighborhood Conservation Corps (NCC). The proposed NCC would include college students canvassing door-to-door offering assistance in direct impact options such as installing CFL’s, programming thermostats, distributing coupons for neighborhood bike shops, etc. The concept is likened to a “Welcome Wagon” of energy information.

● Brian Merchant reported that a citizen education workshop organized through Highland District Council and Macalester Groveland Community Council is scheduled for Wednesday, January 16, at Hillcrest Auditorium. The workshop, “ENERGY LITERACY: Energy-savings and carbon-reduction at the household and community level – What citizens can do,” will feature Justin Lee from Macalester EcoHouse, Jimmie Sparks from NEC, and Eric Schroeder from Great Plains Institute.

Media Strategies:

The group discussed the need for effective ways to provide information to the public. The Energy Challenge was criticized for appearing to be merely a pledge and not a fun one at that. David Suzuki’s 10 points to save the world was suggested as a good model.

Mary Morse suggested organizing a meeting with local editorial boards to introduce the topic of energy transition. The group will begin framing its pitch at its January, 2008 meeting.

Energy Transition Resolutions:

The group discussed creating a model peak oil resolution appropriate for local precinct caucuses. Caucuses include opportunities for citizens to introduce resolutions that, if passed at the caucus, can find their way to the platform committee. Mention was made of Representative Bill Hilty’s peak oil resolution introduced in the state legislature last February (HF 995).

Philipp distributed a draft peak oil resolution designed for precinct caucuses. The resolution asks state elected and appointed officials to educate and prepare the state to meet the challenges of peak oil.

Discussion included references to portions of the City of Portland’s resolution and recommendations to build self-interest in a local resolution describing benefits to the state economy as well as specifics on what is to be achieved.

Lee Olson offered to start a list, jumping off from the TC Peak Oil Resource Guide, describing strategies for citizens to prepare for peak oil. Alice Tibbets offered to work with her on developing the list emphasizing personal responsibility for becoming prepared while encouraging a sense of safety, resiliency, becoming connected, having choices, and improving life.


Alice Tibbets reported on her consulting work with the Minneapolis Public School District dealing with rising costs of student busing. Having previously worked on Safe Routes to School in St. Paul, Alice is currently working on transportation planning for Minneapolis. The district may not be able to afford to provide student busing at parents’ beck and call. With the rising price of diesel fuel, there is a need to change the district’s approach from that of transportation provider to one of transportation partner.

Minneapolis transports students a total of 25,000 miles a day. Alice developed a visual depiction of the fact that the daily total of 25,000 miles represents a trip around the world. In Alice’s analysis, she found that students’ walking just five minutes more to a more distant bus stop resulted in substantial cost savings compared to the costs of door-to-door service. Alice described recommendations including car free zones, providing incentives not to drive to school, and adult crossing guards.

Tony Hainault provided a description of the Metropolitan Counties Energy Group. Hennepin County serves as fiscal agent for the Metropolitan Counties Energy Group representing seven counties in the metro area along with the Met Council. He pointed out that local government has no jurisdiction over energy in Minnesota and counties are not allowed to generate electricity. The Energy Group provides a forum to education county commissioners on energy and has launched energy conservation programs in participating counties. This effort has included incentives to reduce energy use with the pilot occurring in Xcel Energy district counties. Further information on strategic planning is available at:

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