Voters ensure Boulder's muni quest will continue
- Voters in Boulder, Colo., last week authorized the city to continue efforts to form a municipal utility, signing off on spending $16.5 million over the next three years to develop a plan and cost assessments for separating from Xcel Energy, the incumbent power provider.
- Boulder's efforts have spanned years, and by the end of the latest funding authorization the city will have been working to form a muni for about a decade.
- The victory for supporters of municipalization was a surprise. Early returns on election day indicated the measure would fail, but a late surge has all but assured the work will continue.
Early returns Nov. 7 indicated voters had had enough of Boulder's muni plans: Ballot counting showed the funding authorization faced a 12-point deficit. But that reversed over the next day, and on Nov. 8 had transformed into a 3.5-point win.
Final results are still pending, but the Daily Camera reports it would be all-but impossible for proponents to lose.
The process has been ongoing for years, with inconsistent progress. This fall, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission issued an order approving a part of the city of Boulder's proposal to establish a municipal utility — but denied plans on how the separation from Xcel Energy would proceed.
City officials said the decision created "a path forward for the city to proceed with municipalization." Voters agreed.
The commission's decision approved a list of assets Boulder had wanted to transfer from the utility, but it set out several conditions and excluded a half dozen substations from the list.
Four years ago, voters approved spending up to $214 million to form a municipal utility. The city's first application, filed in 2015, proposed transferring assets from Xcel to allow the city to serve customers outside the incorporated lines. Regulators blocked that plan, leading the city to consider alternatives.
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