Will Boulder Form Its Own Utility?

There is a possibility that the City of Boulder could partner with Xcel and remain in that utility’s system, according to a report just released. The paper, written by City staff, argues that achieving goals Boulder already has established should be the priority, not municipalization per se. Those goals include ensuring Boulder has a stable, safe and reliable energy supply while getting power at a competitive price. The City also wants a provider that can cut carbon emissions and pollutants and gives Boulder residents and customers a greater say about their energy supply and sources.

As for Xcel, a spokesperson said the company believes state regulations limit the ways it could form Boulder-specific programs, and when it considers changes it has to act in ways that benefit all its customers across the state. Xcel still believes Boulder could best reach its goals by staying with the utility.

Boulder voters in November 2011 narrowly approved ballot measures that give the City Council the authority to create a municipal utility. Since then, there have been occasional meetings between the city and Xcel Energy executives but nothing in terms of substantial discussion. The paper is an attempt to invite Xcel to become more involved in the discussion, according to staff.

Boulder’s energy staff will continue to study the issues and ascertaining the best course of action. It is expected to recommend to the Boulder City Council whether or not the city should municipalize early next year. The Council could decide in March whether to initiate legal proceedings that could lead to Boulder taking the system through condemnation litigation.

Xcel Energy would like Boulder to delay that for several months so the two sides can discuss options. But City staff said the City doesn’t have much time before the funds allocated for the project run out, and climate change makes action urgent. So the City will study municipalization and take the initial steps toward creating a utility while also negotiating with Xcel. For more information about the Energy Future project, go online at www.boulderenergyfuture.com.

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