This post has been updated to account for my bad math. Always make sure to check your Excel formulas! Thanks Scott!
According to Xcel, energy conservation alone cannot meet their forecasted demand for power in Southwest Minneapolis and they must build a new power line over the Midtown Greenway. Quoted in a Southwest Journal article, and in their Project Need documents submitted to the Minnesota PUC, Xcel claims that they forecast an increased demand of 50 megawatts by 2018 in the “focused study area” (see map on page D2 – 7 of the link above). I think I can save them about $14.5 $12.5 million dollars and a lot of public meetings.
I did some quick figuring using GIS and the 2000 census figures, and the “focused study area” contains roughly 94,000 housing units. This seems to make sense given that this area encompasses some of the most dense parts of the city. If Xcel were to take a proactive approach to conservation, perhaps going door to door and volunteering to install new light bulbs for example, could they make a dent? YES! They could effectively eliminate the need for the Hiawatha project! In fact, if they installed ten new CFL bulbs in one tenth 70 percent of the housing units in the study area, they would more than offset the forecasted growth in demand. And it would only cost about $360,000 $2.5 million. Even if they hired five full-time installers to do the job, it would still only cost around $600,000 $2.75 million. Xcel could save about $14.5 $12.25 million, and the neighbors could go back to worrying about the future of NRP. Check my math. Is it really that easy? Apparently not since I flubbed it the first time.
Perhaps they’ve already factored in some type of conservation efforts, but the forecasted growth chart in the above document doesn’t seem to support that. And even if they have, if you can get this much effect by simply replacing light bulbs, imagine what you could do if you spent the rest of the $15 milion on conservation. Hopefully the EIS will include an independent estimate of just that.