The Next Division In The Boulder Community

This blog has frequently written about the intention of the Boulder City Council to acquire the Xcel electric utility servicing the community.

In its most recent foray into the acquisition, the City Council assigned its City Manager the authority to select a committee to determine the feasibility and monitor the progress of the project. How foolish. All the City Council is doing is setting its City Manager up to either choose individuals who would be favorable to the City Council’s position or we may find the City Manager out of a job.

Realistically, the City Council must figure out a way to try to make the process as neutral as possible. We admire its confidence in the City Manager, and admire more the City Manager’s willingness to take on the responsibility. However, do not be shocked if there is a new City Manager in Boulder, Colorado if the appointed committee arrives at a determination not acceptable to the City Council.

As required by the charter, the city will hire an independent consultant to review its earlier analysis, which found that Boulder could get more than half its energy from renewable resources, mostly wind power, at rates similar to or lower than Xcel Energy’s.

That consultant will be hired by City Manager Jane Brautigam rather than by city staffers who have been working on the Energy Future project to ensure neutrality, Brautigam said.

At the same time, city officials will be further refining their modeling, including soliciting prices from potential wind providers and incorporating information from a new resource plan recently filed by Xcel at the Public Utilities Commission, which shows greater increases in coal prices than Boulder had originally modeled.

Boulder officials also will be working on an appraisal of Xcel’s distribution system in preparation for possible condemnation proceedings against the utility and trying to get clarification from federal regulators about whether Boulder is likely to owe stranded costs to Xcel.