Susan Peterson: Municipalization: Let’s put Xcel on ice

The disruption of Xcel Energy’s outmoded business model by new energy technology reminds me of a similar disruption that occurred almost a century ago when the introduction of the home refrigerator ultimately ended the world ice trade.

At the turn of the 19th century, some savvy businessmen recognized that significant money could be made harvesting and transporting ice from frozen lakes and rivers. By the middle of that century, ice houses enabled railroads to transport meat and produce across long hauls and icemen delivered ice daily for household iceboxes.

But by 1900, refrigeration technology had made the harvesting of ice obsolete. By 1940, home refrigerators had obliterated the once ubiquitous and profitable ice industry.

This rapid decline of an industry due to advances in technology foreshadows the disruption that is about to occur for our energy industry. Advances in solar technology have made the dream of producing most of our electricity from our own rooftops a reality.

Advances in storage and grid technology have made the dream of being able to store and share that energy locally a very real possibility. The negotiated strides we have made over the last decade to separate our basic human right to clean, affordable energy from Xcel’s corporate responsibility to maximize shareholder value have brought us closer to equitably providing ample energy to those who can least afford it.

And yet, we continue to negotiate with Xcel, our historical electricity provider, as though we’re stuck with the iceman when in fact we are at the verge of disrupting their outdated business model in favor of realizing our dream of a clean, green, energy-independent city.

Please urge the City Council to curtail negotiations with Xcel and get back to transforming our fair city into a clean, resilient, equitable energy leader for the 21st century.

Susan Peterson

Published August 16, 2020 in the Boulder Daily Camera

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