Boulder will keep a date with the Public Utilities Commission this week for a hearing on its efforts to form a municipal utility. The decision to proceed follows a 6-to-3 vote Monday night, in which Boulder City Council sided with the majority of citizens who urged them to “stay the course” and not halt efforts toward municipalization by accepting a settlement with Xcel Energy.
The city council meeting was preceded by a pro-muni rally outside City Hall focused on climate change. KGNU’s Roz Brown reports that once inside many speakers were young people who reminded council that when it comes to renewable energy resources, it’s their future at stake.
“I’ll have to deal with climate change for my entire life,” said Joseph Stein, a senior at Boulder’s Fairview High School. “So I feel we should start doing something about it as soon as possible and because Xcel has not been willing to follow-through on commitments in the past we should be cautious in our negotiations with them for renewable energy.”
The council’s vote means the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will hear Boulder’s case on Wednesday, April 19. The PUC, which has already expressed concerns about Boulder’s proposal, could vote to dismiss the city’s current application – a process that has been fraught with far more obstacles than the city originally anticipated.
Former City Councilman Steve Pomerance also argued that any deal with Xcel is a bad one because Xcel has not kept its promises in the past.
“Why would anyone consider doing a deal with Xcel when in the past things have not turned out like they said they would?” said Pomerance.
On the other side of the argument, energy efficiency expert Howard Geller argued that working with Xcel might be to Boulder’s benefit.
“It’s tempting to say to hell with Xcel – we’re going to do our own thing – but considering the bigger picture I think we’d be better off working to move Xcel towards cleaner energy and decarbonize all of it’s electricity supply for all of its customers and not just isolate Boulder.”
Assuming it goes forward, an electric utility won’t be a reality in Boulder before 2022. Fran Sheets said she is willing to take that chance.
“Because we’ve been talking about doing this for a long time to meet our climate change responsibilities to ourselves and to our kids we need to move ahead.”
Matt Applebaum was one of six councilmembers who voted to stay the course saying it’s important because other communities are watching to see if Boulder can create a roadmap to follow.
“I am still hopeful that Xcel can come up with a better offer,” said Applebaum. “That may make their case better and the city’s muni case worse but that’s what voters deserve and we’ll see where we are in November and what we can put on the ballot.”