Randy Compton: A major vindication for the muniPublished on: Wednesday, August 23, 2017
The staff of the Public Utilities Commission has now said, “the Commission should move forward with the City of Boulder’s plan to municipalize its electric utility service according to a multi-phased approach similar to the one already proposed by Boulder.” (15A-0589E PUC Staff Final Statement of Position).
This is a major vindication of the trust that Boulder voters have placed in the city and in the municipalization process. In the most recent vote on municipalization (2013), citizens voted by a two-to-one margin in favor of proceeding with municipalization. We also voted by a two-to-one margin against an anti-municipalization ballot measure put forward by an astroturf group funded by Xcel. Municipalization won even though Xcel and the opposition out-spent the citizens by at least 10 to 1.
In the coming election we can expect to see renewed campaigns of fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the municipalization process. Big Tobacco used a “merchants of doubt” strategy to keep people from giving up cigarettes; Big Oil has used a similar strategy to delay progress on dealing with the climate catastrophe. While robust community discussion about municipalization is a good thing, playing on people’s fears with scare tactics and half-truths is not. Those following the discussion should always bear in mind Xcel’s deep pockets and political connections.
The economic logic of municipalization that carried the day in 2013 makes even more sense today, because the cost of renewables has fallen much more rapidly than anticipated. And if there ever were a test case for citizen power and local control, this is it. We need to keep moving forward with the good energy of community-owned power.
This Letter to the Editor originally appeared in the Daily Camera.