Steve Whitaker: The muni: Xcel is a monopoly


As our city leaders engage Xcel in yet another episode of negotiations, it would be wise for them to bear in mind that a leopard cannot change its spots. Xcel is a monopoly, and its view is that is essential. As a monopoly, it actively works to prevent its customers from having any real choice from whom they purchase their electric power. Competition is anathema to its business model.

This is entirely contrary to a market-based economy, which is the foundation of our economic system. Can one imagine in Boulder having, by law, only one grocery store, one restaurant, one gas station, one medical practice, one hardware store and one clothing store? Choice is fundamental to our way of life, and yet there seems to be a thought that having only one mandated source for our electric power provider is acceptable.

As residents of Boulder we can join together to create our own municipal electric utility. A utility that we control, that responds to our preferences. With it, we can go to the marketplace and seek competitive bids from a multitude of electric power providers. The city has already received proposals from potential electric power providers that are more attractive than that from Xcel. Furthermore, we would be free to create our own rules for rooftop solar, battery storage, solar gardens, power-sharing and microgrids, without the disabling constraints of Xcel and the Public Utilities Commission.

Fortunately, we are well on our way to creating our own municipal electric utility. We just need to stay the course.
While we should be available for discussions with Xcel, we should not forget who they are and what principles guide their business. A muni will give us the freedom of choice we expect.

Steve Whitaker
Boulder

Published June 1, 2020 in the Daily Camera