Eric Lombardi: PUC watching out for fairness on muniPublished on: Saturday, August 26, 2017
On Monday, the Camera headline “Staff advises muni advance” made me smile because I knew this was a big victory for the city and people of Boulder. But my joy was cut short when someone with me said, “Well, of course city staff advises that, why is that a headline?” Even the Camera sub-head using the label “trial staff” confuses more than it clarifies (PUC or city staff?). I realize that in the first paragraph you clarify the situation by saying “staff for the regulators,” but I also know many people don’t read beyond the headlines, thus a false impression may have been delivered to lots of people.
To be clear, the PUC staff is advising their bosses, the three PUC commissioners, to support the plan for Boulder to take control over our electric power system. In addition, the PUC staff advised the commissioners to support a plan that is “similar” to the one proposed by Boulder staff. These developments represent positive progress toward municipalization. We are nearing the top of this mountain!
The PUC staff also suggested there might be a need to mandate better cooperation between the two parties. I think this is a not-so-subtle message to Xcel to stop resisting and suing Boulder over every little thing, because folks, it’s clear that the city staff have been completely cooperative. We can be thankful that there is another public body, the PUC, that is watching out for fairness when two parties have totally different motivations. City staff is working for the public benefit here and they aren’t trying to protect millions of dollars of profits the way Xcel staff must. I get that, and so should you.