Boulder’s Campaign for Local Power: The Latest
TL;DR: Boulder’s fight to create a community-owned electric utility powered by renewable energy continues! With President Trump moving to undo major climate change mitigation efforts on the federal level, the stakes have never been higher—and local leadership has never been more important. But just as Boulder’s utility formation plans are set to be heard by the Public Utilities Commission of Colorado, Xcel Energy has released two offers to avoid the hearings and, in the case of one of the offers, get Boulder’s business back. On April 17th, Boulder City Council will hear from the community as to whether we should sign a 20-year agreement with Xcel, accept their costly “buyout” option, or continue on the path to municipalization at the Public Utilities Commission. Read on for more background, why we oppose these settlement options and support continuing down the path of municipalization, and what you can do to help bring local power to Boulder.
What’s the latest?
The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Colorado is reviewing Boulder’s municipalization application, with hearings set to begin on April 26th. Just over three weeks before these hearings begin, Xcel has asked Boulder to consider two “settlement” options—instead of continuing to pursue municipalization at the PUC.
What are the options Xcel offered?
1) To stay with Xcel or 2) To buy their system (read: poles, wires).
Option 1: Staying with Xcel | The city would again commit to Xcel, for a period of 20 years, with an off-ramp option. This option contains some renewable energy projects, but there’s again no guarantee from Xcel to help the city meet our climate commitment goals of 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Option 2: Buying the system outright | Xcel is giving Boulder the option of buying their system upfront, rather than go through the process at the Public Utilities Commission and the other standard price-setting processes. They’re asking Boulder to pay far more than the system is worth—it’d amount to 2x-3x its value.
What’s the verdict?
Xcel’s offers are business as usual. Municipalization remains the best tool we have to meet our community’s climate commitments! Boulder’s voters have consistently expressed their support for the creation of a local electric utility and a collective commitment to reducing our contributions to climate change by creating a clean energy future for the city. Though Boulder has a constitutional right to municipalize, Xcel has delayed and obstructed the municipalization process since its inception. Now, they’ve released this offer at the 11th hour, which would put our energy future back in their hands with no guarantees that we would move closer to our climate commitments. “Deja vu,” we think, is the term.