Empower Our Future

Letter to the Editor: Steve Whitaker: Community Choice Energy Option

Published in Boulder Daily Camera
By Steve Whitaker

In Boulder, the price of Xcel’s electricity is increasing and based on their requests for rate increases and plans for capital expenditures, the price will only continue to increase. Xcel is a for-profit, investor-owned, monopoly utility. Increasing rates increases profits. In general, the investors expect a return on their investment and the more the better. And since Xcel is a monopoly, maximizing profits is easy compared to other enterprises: they only need to convince two of three Public Utility Commissioners to approve their rate increases. Even though we are the ones who must pay, we have very little influence over the decision. And it’s not like we can readily choose another supplier; there is no competition. Yet.

At the behest of the legislature, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is currently studying a new option for electricity users that are served by investor-owned utilities: Community Choice Energy (CCE). This option would allow cities and counties to choose alternative wholesale electricity suppliers on behalf of their residents and businesses. This would introduce competition: a marketplace for electricity. As envisioned, CCE would give Boulder the option to choose a supplier that provides up to 100% renewable electricity. And unlike municipalization, would not require Boulder to go through a condemnation process to buy the poles and wires; Xcel would continue to own and operate the power lines and do the billing. CCE would be just an option, a community would not have to implement it if it did not want to change their electricity supplier.

However, CCE is only being studied by the PUC who will deliver a report in December. To enable CCE will require legislation. If CCE seems interesting, let your legislators know you want the option to choose.

Steve Whitaker