Study finds benefit in public ownership of utility


An editorial July 13 in the Daily Camera praised Governor Hickenlooper’s recent executive order setting climate goals for Colorado. The piece said, “we’re glad Hickenlooper and other cities and states are picking up the mantle” of reducing emissions.

Boulder is one of those cities picking up the mantle.

Our city is uniquely positioned to lead Colorado municipalities towards achieving Hickenlooper’s vision of a clean, cheap, competitive energy system; and we can do it quickly instead of suffering through more decades of wildfires and floods while the planet heats up. (As the editorial pointed out, even by 2021 Xcel will still rely on 41 percent coal-fired power plants.)

Boulder can do this by separating from Xcel and creating a publicly owned and operated electric utility.

In fact, a new report from the Transnational Institute — tni.org/files/publication-downloads/reclaiming_public_services.pdf — suggests the best way for cities and towns to meet renewable energy and efficiency targets is through public ownership.

The report examines 835 cases across 45 countries where ownership of services — from water to energy to education — were transferred from private to public hands. In general, the results of these transitions included a host of benefits: improved access to services, greater decision-making power for citizens and elected officials, as well as an improved flexibility for localities. In short: our best shot at meeting Paris goals is to make energy public.

Duncan Gilchrist, Boulder

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