A disagreement over which Minneapolis City Council members should help lead the city's new Clean Energy Partnership with two utility companies has slowed progress on one of the most touted council initiatives of the past year.
The council approved the deal with Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy in October, agreeing to work together to use more alternative energy sources and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to meet the city's targets. The partners planned to form a board made up of the mayor, the city coordinator, two council members and two representatives from each of the utilities.
Members of each organization have met regularly since the fall, but the council didn't take any action to appoint its representatives until Dec. 11. That was the day after the council's sometimes-contentious final meeting on the 2015 budget, in which council members sparred over spending priorities and voted repeatedly on a 7-6 split. A proposal to remove some of the funding for the Clean Energy Partnership was initially approved, but finally rejected in a compromise deal.
The next morning, Council President Barb Johnson offered a proposal that would appoint Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Kevin Reich to the partnership board. Glidden, a vocal supporter of the energy work, had been expected to get a nomination, but some council members said Reich's inclusion was a surprise. Council Member Cam Gordon, another prominent advocate, said he'd expressed interest in serving on the board. Reich had sided with Johnson on the budget votes, while Glidden and Gordon voted against proposed cuts.
Johnson said that her nominations were related to bridging divides on the council. But when the proposal stirred up controversy among council members, she pulled it from the Dec. 12 council agenda. Now she hopes to reintroduce it at the council's meeting on Friday.
Glidden and Gordon both said they are eager to see the city move quickly on its appointments. Reich could not be reached for comment.
"We know this is a really important partnership for the city," Glidden said. "It's being watched around the nation. My overall concern is that we're able to engage and do a good job."