The City of Boulder, Colorado, and Xcel Energy, the state's largest investor-owned utility, are in settlement discussions to consider alternatives to Boulder's decade-long effort to form a municipal utility. The city in a May 12 release said the discussions may lead to an alternative for reaching its energy goals.
"When the city started this journey toward its own electric utility, the community had a clear vision to increase local renewable energy, eliminate carbon emissions from its electricity system, improve disaster resilience and provide greater democratic influence in energy decision-making processes," Mayor Sam Weaver said in the release. He added that Xcel has made emissions-reduction commitments in the ensuing years and that "while our specific targets don't yet totally align," he is hopeful the city can work with the utility to bridge the remaining gaps.
"We are optimistic that we can work with Boulder officials to help the city achieve its unique energy goals, just as we're successfully helping other communities across Colorado to achieve their own energy goals," Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy Colorado, said in the release. The utility has pledged to deliver 100-percent carbon-free electricity across its eight-state territory by 2050.
Boulder first proposed establishing a municipal utility in 2010 and has made three separate offers to purchase Xcel assets, the most recent in November. A Boulder District Court judge in December stayed a condemnation case the city filed against the utility when the parties could not come to an agreement [Case No. 2019CV]. A similar condemnation case filed in June 2019 was dismissed and then appealed by the city, which does not expect a decision until 2021, the release said (see CEM No. 1588).
The city will continue its municipalization efforts throughout negotiations, the release said. Weaver said he anticipates settlement discussions will continue, with an opportunity for public engagement this summer. Any settlement agreement would require a public hearing before the City Council. Any franchise agreement that might emerge from settlement talks would require voter approval and likely be on the November ballot.