No on 2C: Loss of Options

First off, this is not an either/or situation

We do not have to choose to municipalize or sign a franchise agreement with Xcel. By staying out of franchise, at a minimum, Boulder would be free to pivot as new technology and new legislation arises – and the horizon is filled with these options.  Staying out of franchise allows us to find out the costs associated with public power. If we choose to pursue public power, alternative financing to complete such projects exists. And, if we decide to say no to a franchise, there is likely to be an even better option next year — courtesy of Xcel. Let’s not give up our leverage with Xcel!

What are the options we risk losing if we sign a new franchise agreement?

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.

We’ll stay trapped in an outdated energy paradigm:  A new Xcel franchise will prevent us from innovating.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?

In addition to the cost, conflict with Xcel 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.

What About Boulder’s 2020 RFP?

The City’s 2018 Request for Indicative Pricing (RFIP) showed that Boulder could save $40 million per year on energy costs at 89% renewable power by purchasing from vendors other than Xcel. And, even at higher costs, Xcel would be providing only 53% renewables. ( We think this standard – 89% renewables at a cost of 2/3 of Xcel’s wholesale price – should be the one Xcel should meet or beat?

Note, analysis of the City’s June 17, 2020 RFP is underway and could uncover an even better deal.

See more about the risks of an Xcel franchise here. And, for more about the cost of the franchise, see The Costs of Staying with Xcel.