FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Steve Fenberg (720) 244-2062
Sept. 2, 2013
Crowdfunding Campaign Against Big Coal Goes Viral
Funds will support fighting back against Xcel’s efforts to stop Boulder from creating a municipal electric utility
Boulder, CO—New Era Colorado Foundation has raised over $65,000, crushing its fundraising goal in its month-long crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo against big coal.
The Colorado nonprofit sought to raise at least $40,000 in 30 days to help defeat an Xcel Energy-backed ballot measure in Boulder, CO this fall. Xcel’s measure seeks to kill Boulder’s efforts to create a municipal electric utility. The crowd-funding campaign still has 15 days left.
The video on New Era’s Indiegogo page states the money will be going towards running a grassroots campaign, producing literature, and getting their message out to voters.
“We know we can’t compete dollar for dollar against Xcel’s war chest,” says Steve Fenberg, executive director of New Era, “but we’re going to need resources so that our message breaks through their fear campaign.”
In 2011 Boulder voters approved a charter amendment authorizing the city to explore creating its own electric utility, the first time a city has ever done so explicitly to create a model for fighting climate change.
“Voter Approval of Debt Limits,” an issue committee with connections to Xcel Energy, paid petitioners to get a charter amendment on the city’s ballot for a November election. City officials and city council argue that the measure intentionally places impossible restrictions on the future utility and would kill the city’s ability to move forward with condemnation proceedings with Xcel to begin the process of forming a city utility.
New Era claims the language of the ballot measure is deceptive and tricks voters into reversing the clean energy initiative voters approved two years ago. The organization plans on running a full-scale grassroots campaign to ensure voters understand the city’s modeling has so far shown Boulder could provide cleaner energy at the same or better rates than Xcel, all the while ensuring the same reliability. In July an independent, third-party consultant evaluated Boulder’s modeling and has verified the city has a high likelihood of success for achieving those standards.
“We’re going to run a truly grassroots campaign,” said Fenberg, “so it’s only fitting that we raise our funds from the grassroots as well.”
The crowd-funding campaign was featured on social sharing platform, Upworthy on Tuesday, Sept. 3., and has become one of the most viral posts the site has ever published.
Background on Boulder Municipalization
For years, Boulder residents pressured their monopoly utility, Xcel Energy, the largest investor-owned, coal-dominated utility in Colorado, to provide cleaner power to no avail. In November 2011, fed up with stall tactics, Boulder voters approved two ballot measures to begin the process of “municipalizing” their energy utility, effectively taking control from Xcel and allowing the city to move to cleaner energy. The campaign was historic. Very few cities have recently taken control of their energy supply in such a manner, and never in American history had a city municipalized their energy supply explicitly to create a model for fighting global warming.
The fight wasn’t easy. Xcel poured in over $1 million in three months in their efforts to beat back the ballot measures. New Era Colorado’s team and their campaign coalition spent a mere $100,000 promoting the two measures. At the end of the day New Era’s army of organizers, interns and volunteers carried the day, registering 5,000 voters, and making 70,000 voter contacts on their way to victory.
Now, Xcel Energy stands to lose millions of dollars in profits every year. After polling potential ballot language three times in the Spring of 2013, they’ve introduced a new ballot measure, an initiative that would make Boulder’s clean energy plans nearly impossible, by masquerading it simply as a measure to reduce city government debt. The ballot would essentially kill municipalization before a new city utility could even be formed by placing too many restrictions on it and by making it impossible for the city to move forward with condemnation proceedings against Xcel Energy to begin the process of forming a city utility.
The city’s modeling has so far shown Boulder could provide cleaner energy at same or better rates than Xcel, all the while ensuring the same reliability. An independent, third-party consultant evaluated Boulder’s modeling and has verified the city has a high likelihood of success for achieving those standards, all the while potentially saving money.
This fight already has national implications. At least two other city councils—neighboring Lafayette, Colorado and even the home of Xcel Energy headquarters, Minneapolis, are studying Boulder’s municipalization policy and considering emulating it. If they win, the environment stands to lose and corporate control over both our climate and our elections stand to win.
If we win we create a model for how other cities around the country can not only make decisions about their own energy future, but in the long-term, pressure the entrenched business model of huge investor owned utilities to finally change.
About New Era Colorado
New Era Colorado Foundation is an innovative vehicle for hands-on democracy. We engage, educate, and train a new generation of active citizens and young leaders in Colorado. New Era is a full-spectrum civic engagement organization; we provide the resources and tools for young people to gain collective power in all levels of the democratic process, including issue organizing, electoral mobilization, and the legislative process. Annual report on our programs here. Annual report of our programs here.