Why Were Voters Being Asked Whether They Support Municipalization?
The option to create a new municipal electric utility was on the November 2011 ballot
In 2010, Boulder’s 20-year franchise with Xcel Energy expired, prompting the city to explore alternative options related to its energy supply. For nearly a year, the city analyzed several different approaches for meeting the community's goals. These included the possibility of creating a local electric utility, forming a new kind of partnership with Xcel Energy and a possible combinations of these.
In August of 2011, the Boulder City Council voted unanimously to put two energy-related issues on the November 2011 ballot. The first askrf voters if they wishrf to authorize the creation of a locally-run electric utility. The utility would only be created once all costs are determined, and if rates would be no more than those of Xcel Energy at the time of acquisition. The second asked voters whether they are willing to extend and increase the Utility Occupation Tax to fund the preliminary costs associated with setting up the local utility.
Why are we having this discussion?
Boulder currently receives electrical power service from Xcel Energy, a regulated monopoly that serves many communities in several states. Last year, as the city’s 20-year franchise agreement with Xcel Energy was coming to an end, City Council had concerns about signing a new long-term agreement and decided, instead, to give the city time to study possible alternatives. The city spent the first part of 2011 building upon earlier studies to develop the analysis the city has done to date. Now the two ballot options described above are on the table.
I don’t see a problem. What are we trying to fix?
By passing the Climate Action Plan tax in 2006, Boulder made a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint in response to the climate change crisis. The city wants to ensure that it is planning for an energy future that is both economically sustainable and environmentally responsible. The overall goal is to make certain that Boulder residents and businesses have access to reliable power that is increasingly clean and competitively priced. Our community has also said it wants as much of its energy as possible to be generated locally and wants more of a say in decision-making about where our power comes from, what we pay for it and what investments are made with the revenues.
Boulder has a history of engaging the entire community in planning for our future. This discussion is part of that history. Boulder has spent several years analyzing its energy options. Despite efforts on both sides to reach a new partnership with Xcel Energy, that does not appear to be an option at this point. The city has produced a feasibility study of a local utility using all the data available at this time. The city needs additional information to develop a firm cost model, but Xcel Energy is not required by law to participate in the process necessary to obtain these costs unless the voters authorize formation of a municipal utility. Our community needs to make decisions about how we want to position ourselves in a changing world, carefully considering how our decisions will shape the future of our community, our economy and our planet. In addition, Xcel Energy is poised to make significant investments in fossil fuel generating resources. If a municipal utility is created, the city hopes to maximize the benefits for our local businesses and residents while setting an environmentally and economically responsible path for years to come.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 13:28