Green Zones can fight back against energy rate increases

Door knockers prepare to spread the word about Xcel’s proposed rate increase.

This article was written by Mariko Yatsuhashi

Twice a week for the past month, volunteers from MN Renewable Now and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MNIPL) have door knocked in the Minneapolis North and South Green Zones to raise awareness of Xcel Energy’s proposed 21 percent electricity rate increase. In 2021, Xcel Energy proposed a 21 percent increase in electricity rates for Minnesota that, if accepted, would go into effect between 2022 and 2024. The rate increase would add about $18 more to each household’s monthly electricity bill, according to Kare 11 News. Already, about 1 in 8 Xcel Energy customers are behind on their bills.

A Green Zone is a group of neighborhoods facing high amounts of pollution and economic, social and racial marginalization. MN Renewable Now and MNIPL are prioritizing outreach in the Green Zones to provide resources and information to communities with high concentrations of low-income households who will feel the effects of those $18 a month most intensely. So far, MN Renewable Now and MNIPL have reached over 400 households within Minneapolis’ two Green Zones.

As a community, we have the power to stop Xcel’s proposed rate increase. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), a group of five regulators appointed by the Minnesota governor, will decide whether to accept or deny the rate increase at the end of 2022. Their decision can be influenced by public opinion. You can express your opposition to the rate increase by signing the petition organized by MN Renewable Now and MNIPL. You can also submit a public comment directly to the PUC to provide a more detailed argument against the rate increase.

In the meantime, there are multiple ways to lower your energy bills. The City of Minneapolis is providing free energy audits in North Minneapolis. Energy auditors will examine your doors for drafts, replace lightbulbs, install efficient water faucets and more, decreasing energy waste in your home and lowering your bills.

There are opportunities for everyone, homeowner or not, to invest in solar energy and receive credits from Xcel on their energy bills. A community solar garden is a large solar array which produces clean energy for community members to share, removing the cost barrier of installing solar panels on individual homes. The community solar garden on the roof of North High School is open to subscribers.

If you are a Northside homeowner you may be eligible for a free rooftop solar array through MN Renewable Now’s Solstar program. A solar array can bring your household electricity costs down to zero, and Xcel Energy will have to buy back any excess solar energy you produce. The Solstar program is opening up its waiting list to both zip codes 55411 and 55412.

Through improved energy efficiency and access to solar energy, residents in the North and South Green Zones can become more resilient in the face of Xcel’s rate hike. Scan the QR code below with your smartphone to sign the petition against the rate increase and to get connected to the energy saving resources mentioned above.

Contact MN Renewable Now at or 612-208-3896. Or contact the PUC at