- Boulder, Colo., and Xcel Energy are in negotiations to end the city's bid to form a municipal utility, with voters potentially considering a franchise agreement as soon as November, the Daily Camera reports.
- However, neither the city nor Xcel will call a halt to legal proceedings surrounding the muni plan while the talks are in process.
- The city issued a statement saying it wants to remain transparent in the case, but the ongoing talks remain confidential. Boulder has been working for years to form a municipal utility and to take over Xcel's distribution system.
Boulder leaders this week issued a statement acknowledging its discussions with Xcel, and focused on the idea that any agreement would give the municipality greater say in the utility's investments — presumably an acknowledgement that the city wants more renewables used to serve customers.
"Both Boulder and Xcel Energy share numerous objectives and goals," David Eves, president of Xcel Energy in Colorado, said in the statement. "We believe working together we can take advantage of each other’s strengths and plans to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy and provide more customer choice and programs, which could serve as a roadmap for other communities in Colorado and the nation."
Last summer, Boulder requested the PUC transfer assets from Xcel to allow the city to serve customers outside the incorporated lines. But the city has considered other possibilities, as legal challenges to taking over infrastructure outside its boundaries have slowed the process. Among the possible alternatives, Boulder said it would be open to wheeling power to its in-city customers over lines owned by Xcel Energy where feeders pass outside the city’s boundaries before reaching those customers.
Now, Boulder and Xcel say the are discussing possible terms of a settlement, "including ways they could partner to support each other’s shared objectives and plans related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable energy, increasing electric customer choice and program offerings, and supporting local pilot projects that would test innovative solutions associated with electricity generation, delivery and management."
The Daily Camera reports the municipality has spent $10.4 million on its bid to form a municipal utility, with $2.7 million spent on municipalization staff alone. Expenses covered in the spending include consulting services, salary, benefits office space and supplies.
Under the terms of any settlement, Xcel Energy would continue to provide electric service to all customers within Boulder city limits.
“While we are continuing to evaluate the company’s proposals as they are filed with the Public Utilities Commission, we respect the recent steps Xcel Energy has taken to increase renewable energy sources in its new plan and revisit some of the regulatory limitations that make this challenging in Colorado," said City Manager Jane Brautigam. "This makes good environmental and economic sense. ... I am excited that we have come together to once again explore the possibility of a meaningful partnership.”
The two sides noted that should a proposed settlement be presented to to City Council before late July, the question of an agreement could be put on the November 2016 ballot. If a settlement occurred later, it could be put on the November 2017 ballot or on a special election ballot in the interim.
"Both sides are committed to participating fully in the public process associated with possible ballot items," the city and utility said.