Cameron Brooks: Electric franchise agreement: Utilities are self interested

October 31, 2020

I dropped off my ballot the other day and I voted “no” on ballot issues 2C and 2D. I hope that you will join me. It’s about so much more than simply clean energy. It’s about what our energy future will look like here in Boulder … and beyond.

I am confident that Xcel Energy will continue down the path toward a clean energy future. It has already progressed, by some measures, more than many of its utility peers. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty low bar. It’s worth remembering that most, if not all, of these strides came only after laws forced it down that path.

There is an irrefutable fact about the utility industry today: Regulated utilities make money by investing your money in “stuff” that they own. Utilities today don’t increase their profits because they sell more energy, introduce new technologies, or because they provide better service (although they might do all those things).

They increase their profits by building more infrastructure and increasing the asset base approved by regulators. This fact drives the motivation of utilities nationwide to own all aspects of the electric systems that they can. It also motivates them to limit access to “their” networks (the one that you paid for).

Twenty years is a mighty long time. With amazing advances in distributed solar, energy storage, and microgrids, do we really want to give the keys to a company, any company, that is incentivized to limit what citizens and businesses can own and operate? Or how they share those resources amongst themselves?

The fact that Xcel has fought so hard for so many years speaks volumes about how much value is at stake, here in Boulder and as a beacon to the rest of the country.

Join me in voting “no” on 2C and 2D.

Cameron Brooks
Boulder, CO

Published in the October 31, 2020 issue of the Boulder Daily Camera