- The town of Boulder, Colorado has officially created its own electric utility—well, on paper at least.
- The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to form an electric utility, though there are no firm plans yet to run the utility or buy Xcel Energy's distribution network around the town.
- Boulder has been looking to municipalize for years now and rejected an Xcel-backed ballot measure designed to prevent the city from doing so. Supporters of municipalization are concerned with the use of fossil fuels for electricity generation and want to power the town with renewables.
Xcel Energy, who opposes municipalization, labeled the vote "premature." The utility claims Boulder has not proven it could buy its distribution system and sell power at similar rates. Xcel also called into question how Boulder would handle electricity customers tied to the Boulder-area distribution network, but do not live in the official city limits.
But Boulder appears undeterred by the complexities of running its own utility. "The ones who are asking us to do this are envisioning a new world," said Councilman Macon Cowles. "If we want to wreck the natural systems, all we have to do is stick with the status quo. Most of the people in our town are saying we cannot keep doing this. We have to usher in a new era in the relationship with the natural world. This is a high calling that we are doing."
But another councilman who voted yes, George Karakehian, remained wary of Boulder's ability to deliver power at rates comparable to Xcel's, noting that the costs of studying municipalization ($2.2 million) have already passed revenue from the utility occupation tax ($1.9 million) and continue to mount. Yet he believes the vote was still "a logical and necessary next step, whether we municipalize or use this as a tool to continue negotiations with Xcel."