The talks between Boulder and Xcel are keyed by the fact that in November 2011. That's when the city's voters agreed to allow the City Council to issue bonds to purchase Xcel’s local system if certain criteria related to rates, reliability, bonding revenue, more renewable energy and goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions can be met.
The idea of a 200-MW wind farm devoted to supplying power to the city of Boulder, Colo., has been floated in a series of ongoing, though so far fruitless, talks between local utility owner Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) and Boulder city officials.
A memorandum describing those talks was filed Dec. 20 at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. The Dec. 6 memo is addressed to the Boulder City Council and was prepared by the city manager and other city officials.
The talks with Xcel are keyed by the fact that in November 2011, Boulder voters agreed to allow the City Council to issue bonds to purchase Xcel’s local system if certain criteria related to rates, reliability, bonding revenue, more renewable energy and goals for lowering greenhouse gas emissions can be met.
Voters also agreed to pay a Utility Occupation Tax of $1.9m a year for five years to fund attorneys, engineering and other costs related to the city’s continuing research into the possibility of municipalization. Xcel has opposed municipalization and pledged to its shareholders that it will vigorously defend its interests in court and before regulatory bodies that would consider such a request.
The memo noted that recently, representatives from Xcel have suggested that a partnership with the city is not possible because the city is focused on “localizing” its power. “While it is certainly true that creating a municipal electric utility would give the city the greatest degree of control over its energy future, the fourth goal, ‘providing Boulder energy customers with a greater say about their energy supply,’ could also be met through a genuine partnership with Xcel,” the memo added.
Within the city’s definition of localization, the memo said a wide range of strategies could be executed, including: an increase in distributed generation and local renewables; investments in energy efficiency and demand management; and increased customer choice for clean energy sources.
Xcel’s Public Service Co. of Colorado unit has served the Boulder community since 1929. For most of those 83 years, this service was provided pursuant to a franchise agreement. Franchise agreements give utilities the right t