Julia Nerbonne Testimony at PUC 12-05-13

MNIPL Testimony at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission


MNIPL members filled the front row at the PUC on December 5th.  From left to right Joy Danielson (St. Andrews Lutheran Church), Rev. Dennis Ormseth (Lutheran Church of the Resurrection), Rev. Don Rudrud (Calvary Evangelica Lutheran ) Rev. Douglas Donley (University Baptist ), Joy Throm (First Universalist, and MNIPL Board Chair), and Terry Hockenson (Minneapolis Quaker Meeting)

On December 5, 2013, MNIPL testified at the Public Utilities Commission to send the clear message that responsible energy plans are a moral choice.  We urged the commission to make sure Xcel's long term resource plan included shutting down the largest coal plant in the state.  We hope they will start planning now how they can invest in the town of Becker so that they can be part of building a new energy economy in Minnesota.  At the end of the day the commission has mandated that Xcel model what shutting down Sherco would look like.  We will await the long term resource plan that should come out sometime in the spring of 2014.  More to come after this small but important step. 

Click here for the coverage from the Star Tribune.

Below is Julia Nerbonne's Testimony.


Hello, My name is Julia Nerbonne.  I am the director of Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light , and I come representing people of faith from all over Minnesota.  Joining me are faith leaders from many Minnesota congregations. (Introduce)

Thank you, commissioners for the opportunity to share our perspective on the Xcel Sherco study and energy plan, and to represent the voices of thousands of Minnesotans who understand that energy production and consumption represent a moral choice for Minnesotans.

We are here to ask the commission to hold Xcel accountable to their recent study which illustrated that keeping the Sherco facility open is not in the public’s economic best interest when the true costs of carbon pollution are considered.  We ask that when they produce a long term resource plan, they start with the base assumption that Sherco I and II will be replaced.  We also ask that in their forthcoming plan they accurately represent the cost of carbon pollution and use up-to-date analysis in weighing the costs and benefits of a renewable energy portfolio.

Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light is currently working with hundreds of people and dozens of congregations who are striving to become models of energy stewardship.  As people of faith we believe it is our moral responsibility, for the benefit of our neighbors, our children, and for the future of all life on earth, to care for all that has been entrusted to us.  In this spirit, Mayflower United Church of Christ, has recently enacted plans to become carbon neutral by 2030. They have installed 200 solar panels, replaced lighting, insulated the buildings and more.  They have shown that it can be done. But we know that our actions alone will not be enough.  Many of us all over the state rely on the energy produced by Xcel.   We need you, our public utility commissioners, to hold Minnesota companies responsible to calculate the true cost of carbon emissions when they make plans for the future.  

I brought this candle from my congregation, St. Mary’s Episcopal, because it was given as a gift to us by our sister parish in Haiti.  Last spring we had a delegation come from Bonne Neuvelle where they have recently suffered the impacts of multiple hurricanes.  A woman who was the head of the PTA at the school was asked the question: Are you ever hungry?  She answered: Yes.  When the rains are too heavy, or the droughts come, our gardens cannot grow and we are hungry.  And did you hear about the 30,000 cattle who died in an October snow storm in South Dakota.  These are the conversations that are occupying fellowship halls all over Minnesota.  The climate crisis is here, and it is real.

It is incredible to see the energy and passion that is beginning to emerge in congregations as they begin to connect the dots between the climate crisis and the important social justice work that we are already committed to.  To watch as youth groups and elders alike lean into both their fear, and into the possibility of acting.

We are here today because we believe in a transcendent goodness.  And because we have a responsibility to preserve the dignity of all life on earth. Today we take a small step as we ask you to join us by recognizing the true cost of carbon, and having that reflected in an economically and socially sustainable energy plan for Xcel Energy.

Thank you for your time, and I’m happy to answer questions.