The City of Boulder must move faster toward renewable sources for the city’s electricity. It should not, however, hasten to lock in a franchise with Xcel Energy.
Xcel currently sources 30 percent of electricity from renewables and projects its electricity supply will be 53 percent renewable by 2024.
In contrast, in 2018, Boulder received good-faith estimates that offer 89 percent renewables by 2024 for two-thirds Xcel’s price. Cleaner energy at a lower price. Multiple credible energy suppliers provided these estimates, and since then, the cost of solar- and wind-powered electricity has further dropped.
The city recently received real bids from electricity suppliers. The bids are not yet public, but likely some of the same suppliers have applied. We must review these proposals and not be rushed by Xcel just because competition is coming to threaten their corner on the market.
For example, just this year, several Colorado utilities have inked new contracts with Guzman Energy, a wholesale supplier focused on renewables. These are real business deals with serious energy suppliers who provide good prices on renewable-sourced electricity now. Xcel takes home over $20 million in profits from Boulder every year – and these deals show that renewable suppliers can provide cleaner energy at lower costs and still turn a profit.
We don’t need to write a blank check to a monopoly. We can strike a better deal to meet our climate goals and loosen the death grip of coal and gas. We need not rush into a franchise vote in November. Instead, the city staff and City Council members must do their due diligence on the new proposals received this month from other energy suppliers.
Our planet’s future depends on taking control of our collective energy future. Stop the rush to franchise.
Published in the August 19, 2020 Boulder Daily Camera