The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to set public hearings on forming a municipal utility and also to fund a $250,000 study exploring that and other possibilities related to the looming expiration of the city’s longtime electric and natural gas agreements with Xcel Energy Inc. and CenterPoint Energy.

While some council members raised questions about whether Minneapolis was truly equipped to take on the responsibilities of those companies, others emphasized that scheduling public hearings for Aug. 1 was merely one step toward getting the matter on the November ballot and entering negotiations with Xcel and CenterPoint from a stronger position.

Council Member Lisa Goodman said that, while she had reservations about forming a municipal utility, “I don’t think it’s our job to try to stifle debate.”

A motion by Council President Barb Johnson to allocate the $250,000 away from the study toward pothole repair failed, and she was the only council member who voted against funding the report. Council Members Sandy Colvin Roy and Diane Hofstede joined her in voting against the public hearings.