A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at the headquarters of Rochester Public Utilities (RPU) for their monthly board meeting, but was turned away by a Hazmat team because of some kind of freak incident with their ventilation system. The meeting went on at another location, unbeknownst to most outside the board and RPU staff, so I wasn’t able to get this news first-hand. Nonetheless, imagine my surprise and excitement when I was informed later that some incredible developments were discussed at the meeting as a result of a recent infrastructure report—Rochester is going coal-free by 2030!
Citing economics, societal pressures and infrastructure limitations that make this a smart decision, the report—which can be viewed here: http://www.rpu.org/documents/2015_update_rpu_infrastructure_study.pdf –goes on to detail the reasons for the shift in the next 15 years. But, the following statement was a summary of the findings, based on their own 2001 surveys and found on page 12:
“Being a municipal utility, RPU is responsible to the citizens of Rochester, who are the customers it serves. In order to understand the issues of importance to its customers, RPU has periodic customer satisfaction surveys performed. According to customer satisfaction research conducted by Morgan Marketing in 2001, keeping the price for electricity as low as possible and aggressively pursuing energy conservation and renewable generation strategies were ranked in order as the highest needs among 18 performance attributes. The development of this plan recognizes those needs. Phase I herein reviewed the needs and traditional approaches to meeting the resource needs of RPU’s customers in a low cost manner in accordance with reliability standards in the industry. It established a baseline from which to measure potential impacts of renewable energy sources and customer modifications to consumption. The Phase II effort reviewed conservation, demand side management and renewable options to be integrated into the RPU system which could reduce or eliminate the need for the addition of the traditional resources.”
Conservation Minnesota’s survey conducted last fall supports these findings completely and I could not be more excited by this decision and the implications it has for the city, the region and even the state. Minnesota is well on its way to being a leader in renewable energy and I am proud to see Rochester taking progressive steps toward modeling that leadership.