Rebecca Dickson: Remove Xcel from the Driver's Seat


Two years ago, our household got on a waiting list to buy into a community solar garden because we have a shade tree blocking the sun. But Xcel Energy limits the number of solar gardens available, so we never were invited to buy into one. This year we gave up and had four solar panels put on our garage, the only place that gets adequate sun. Our contractor finished installing them in early February. An inspector from the city of Boulder came out the next morning, and after a 20-minute examination, approved of our system.

And then our solar panels sat there doing nothing because Xcel, which had to install the meters, did not show up or contact us. Xcel finally came out in early March. Based on our experience in getting solar panels, the city of Boulder looks efficient and able while Xcel looks slow and incompetent.

This is anecdotal, of course. Maybe the city was having a great day and Xcel was having a string of bad days, four weeks of them. Maybe Xcel was just overwhelmed by its workload.

Whatever the reason, we had to wait a month with useless solar panels on our roof, losing money on our investment. This suggests that Xcel would make a poor energy partner for the city. Partnering with Xcel would require the city to take all the risks, and Xcel has no plan for helping Boulder reach our clean-energy goals. And if we partner with them, we’re stuck with slow-moving Xcel for 20 years.

Xcel has been in charge of Boulder’s electric supply for decades and we’re not where we need to be. Let’s remove Xcel from the driver’s seat, put the city in charge, and move forward toward clean electricity in Boulder.

This Letter to the Editor was originally published in the Daily Camera.