Boulder Is Looking Into Creating A Boulder Electric Utility For Very Good Reasons
Boulder is looking into municipalizing our electric distribution system (i.e. developing a “muni”) in order to:
- Slash greenhouse gas pollution from fossil fuel electricity
- Meet or beat Xcel’s reliability
- Meet or beat Xcel’s rates
- Gain local control so we can address community priorities
- Stimulate Boulder business and entrepreneurship in clean energy
Sophisticated modeling – of economics, reliability, and energy-resources – indicates a very high likelihood that a Boulder muni can achieve these goals, including:
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% or more,
- Being powered by over 50% renewables, on the way to a 100% renewable grid (as compared to less than 30% with Xcel).
- Insulating us from escalating fossil fuels costs and taxes
- And keeping rates at or below Xcel’s (In fact, the financial benefits are looking better all the time).
Boulder’s modeling was reviewed by an independent third party reviewer with 45 years of utility experience. He praised Boulder’s work, saying, “I’ve seen billions of dollars of acquisitions and I’ve never seen any acquiring entity come anywhere near the level of detail and sophistication that Boulder has done.” (Gregory L. Booth, PE, President PowerServices and UtilityEngineering, www.powerservices.com)
The likelihood that Boulder can achieve its goals is further supported by several documented facts:
- Municipal utilities have better reliability than most investor-owned utilities.
- Municipal utilities have lower rates on average (by 10% to 15%) than investor-owned utilities.
- Xcel sends about $15M each year out of the Boulder region to shareholders. With a muni these funds could be used to lower bills and/or purchase cleaner generation.
Add to this the benefits of local control (instead of having to hire lawyers to argue at the PUC), and creating a vibrant economic and technical environment for local businesses in the new energy economy and you have a winning combination.
Given recent developments in renewable energy and micro-grid technologies, trends in fossil fuel supplies, and the pace of global warming, a muni makes more sense than ever. Furthermore, in its clean energy efforts, Boulder is not alone.