Blake Jones: Make Xcel compete

I’m an entrepreneur and small business owner who lives in Boulder, and I’m a strong advocate for voting “yes” on the two municipalization-related ballot initiatives: 2L and 2O. Without 2L, we won’t have an alternative to Xcel Energy that would pose any serious competition for them, and this would put us at a significant disadvantage for future negotiations.

Every good business person knows that having competing alternatives helps yield the best deal, and we’ve already seen Xcel’s proposals improve tremendously in recent years as we’ve explored municipalization.

Also, the cost of 2L is a drop in the bucket compared to the long-term savings we’d achieve through either municipalization or a better deal with Xcel.

I believe that businesses are more efficient than government entities. So, when I first heard about municipalization, I thought, “How could a publicly-owned utility possibly be more cost-effective than an investor-owned utility?” Then I learned that Colorado’s largest municipal utilities, such as Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Longmont, all have cheaper rates than Xcel. Xcel is not a typical business that must compete in a normal marketplace. Instead, they’re a regulated monopoly that has never had to compete, so they aren’t harnessing the same innovative and competitive advantages the way normal businesses do. Also, unlike municipal utilities, Xcel must charge more to pay a return to stockholders.

Ultimately, the threat of municipalization scares Xcel and motivates them to provide us with a better alternative. Let’s make them compete with a municipalization option that could yield lower rates, more renewable energy, and more control for our energy future.

Lastly, I like that 2O requires another vote before municipalization could potentially occur. 2O keeps control for the final decision firmly in our hands while 2L maximizes our negotiating leverage with Xcel Energy.

Vote yes for 2L and 2O!

This Letter to the Editor was published in the Boulder Weekly.

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