Regelson: Franchise– Las Cruces got $20 Million-why aren't we?


August 17, 2020

Dear Council:

Thank you for all your hard work in amazingly difficult times!

While I think that if we continue municipalization, future Boulderites will look back on it the way that we look back on open space now, I’d like to offer my perspective on the franchise and settlement: good deal or not?

So many have addressed:

  • opt-outs which are really opt-ain’ts since as near as I can tell no-one has ever taken the state mandated 10 and 15 year opt-outs that exist in current Xcel Colorado franchises. This means there is no process to take an opt-out, which puts us back at square zero – starting over with the PUC and courts as they work through how its done like we’ve been doing with municipalization these last 9 years.
  • the under grounding bribe from Xcel which came directly out of our pockets already – not new money from Xcel, or shareholders, but money Xcel has already collected for under grounding but not paid out – money from all of us.
  • the supposed GHG reductions which are only the tiniest increment over what is already required in state law. Provided, of course, anything proposed even makes it through the PUC.

SO many have addressed these issues that I’m not going to add more.

What I would like to address is the history of monopoly electric company settlements with cities attempting municipalization.

Las Cruces, NM

In 1992, Las Cruces NM moved forward with a municipalization attempt. In 2000 they settled with their monopoly electric. For $20 million. Money for under grounding? Nope.

Money collected from billpayers’ not shareholders pockets? Nope.

This was money to pay the city back for legal and technical costs.

In addition, Las Cruces negotiators got a commitment for lower rates from the monopoly.

$20 million in 2000 is worth $32 million now. Where is our $32 million to pay us back for legal and technical costs?

I can see lots of commitments for raising our rates in the proposed agreements, but zip, nada, no commitment for lowering our rates.

Some detail on Las Cruces’ deal is here: Boulder’s proposed franchise and side agreement are a terrible deal for us, for Colorado, and for the world. Our “deal” sets a bad precedent for any other city that attempts to municipalize when compared to Las Cruces’ deal.

There is no rush here. Send staff back to get a good deal with real commitments or better still, steer the course with muni until we know what the costs actually are and then let us vote.

Thank you for all your service,

Ken Regelson
Proud to call Boulder my home for the last 40 years.
Boulder, CO 80304