I was one of the voters in 2017 who signaled Boulder to move forward with municipalization, because the climate crisis is urgent, and because I favor my local government as the producer and supplier of energy into the future. I trust Boulder to charge a fair rate, and to be accountable to local consumers. Moreover, our climate crisis demands creative and urgent action, and energy municipalization would allow Boulder to fly towards our goals (including 100% renewable electricity by 2030).
Two years later, however, the equation has changed. Muni efforts to date have cost approximately $22 million, and Xcel acquisition costs are predicted to cost $150-215 million. Meanwhile, Xcel committed last year to move to 80% carbon-free electricity by 2030, and 100% by 2050. We are waiting on the full financial picture to unfold, but at some point, there could be a price point that is illogical, in light of Xcel’s new commitments.
The voters will decide whether to move forward, likely on the 2020 or 2021 ballot. I don’t know yet how I will vote as a Boulder resident. I am open to continuing down the muni path, and also I am open to shutting the door on the muni in 2020/2021, IF: Xcel is out front on sustainability goals; and if the financial burden becomes too great. I would be sad to lose the local control. But at some tipping point, Boulder would be foolish to throw money out the window chasing local energy if Xcel is meeting the same goals we want to meet, but at a lesser cost. The facts and the voters will dictate the direction we take with muni.
Check out Boulder’s local energy/muni progress for yourself!