What are the risks if we sign a new franchise agreement?

  • Boulder may not be able to reach its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030.
  • Boulder could end up with nothing: By signing this agreement, Boulder likely loses all means to create a local power utility. Our court cases – we took years to get to – would be dismissed, and if the franchise agreement fails, Boulder also loses its leverage with Xcel.
  • There are huge financial risks involved in signing agreements with Xcel. Why?
    • Xcel has proposed $7.5 billion in new investments which would bring its total debt to over $10 billion. Boulder’s share of the interest on that debt is far more than the interest on a local utility with an estimated debt of $300 million.
    • Xcel has increased its rates every year almost every year since 2006, and plans to ask for another rate increase in 2020. More increases are likely, in part to pay off the costs of Xcel’s coal plants, which are rapidly becoming stranded assets.
    • Xcel is committed to burning (increasingly expensive) coal and/or other fossil fuels least until 2070; Xcel has also proposed advanced nuclear.
  • We’ll stay trapped in an outdated energy paradigm:  A new Xcel franchise will prevent us from innovating. We’ll be back in the confines of a century-old regulatory framework based on a fossil fuel economy and Xcel’s legacy, profit-driven business model of centralized power generation.

Why is this agreement bad for Boulder?

  • It puts an abrupt end to 10 years of hard work to bring clean power to Boulder, and millions of dollars invested in exploring our own local power utility. We are in the home stretch!! Our current court cases would be dismissed. We have worked hard to get to this point. Let’s not give up now!
  • We lose local control: A new franchise agreement would mean our energy future is not in our own hands. All decisions would be made either by Xcel or by the Public Utilities Commission, in a process that is largely inaccessible to Boulder voters.
  • No local economic stimulus: Boulder loses the option of keeping  energy dollars in our own community to invest in local business and  innovative 21st century technologies.
  • PUC costs are significant: As long as we are tied to Xcel, Boulder will continue to pay high legal costs to participate at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

What are the weaknesses in this agreement?

  • Xcel will not help pay for renewables in Boulder: There are no provisions in the partnership agreement that commit Xcel to financing renewable energy in Boulder. This agreement could cost Boulder more for energy, as we pay our Xcel bills and double dip to fund new clean energy investments.
  • Conflict will continue:  We would be locked in perpetual disagreements over future carbon reduction projects, if the past is any clue. There are no provisions for arbitration or dispute resolution in the agreement.
  • It’s toothless: The proposed partnership agreement is unenforceable and there is no provision for Xcel to accept or approve Boulder’s renewable energy proposals.