Oversight: Tracking Boulder's Progress Toward 2030 Goals Under Xcel Agreement
In November 2020, Boulder voters were faced with a choice about how best to achieve our renewable energy goals. In a rushed and pandemic-constrained election, voters opted by 53% to 47% to re-enter a 20-year Franchise Agreement with Xcel Energy, the monopoly electricity provider.
DAYS since voter approval of franchise with Xcel.
DAYS until first discretionary opt-out (off-ramp) decision to exit Xcel franchise (election on November 4, 2025).
TONS of GREENHOUSE GASES ELIMINATED as a result of the Xcel Agreement
A. Boulder's Electricity Goals
Goal 1: 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030 (Approved by Council in 2016) – What has been accomplished since signing the Xcel Agreement?
Goal 2: 100 Megawatts (MW) Local Renewable Electricity Generation by 2030
Goal 1: 100% Renewable Electricity by 2030 — What has been accomplished since signing the Xcel Agreement?
We don't seem to have made much progress.
Xcel Grid vs. Boulder’s Goal
How will Boulder meet its climate goals of 100% renewable electric energy with a provider, Xcel, whose mix is still 63% fossil fuels?
According to Xcel Energy’s Electric Resource Plan, their “Aspiration” is to be 100% carbon free by 2050.
Xcel is moving too slowly!
Sources and notes: 1) Xcel’s 2030 target is from page 4 of Xcel’s Electric Resource Plan of March, 2021
2) Xcel’s path to its 2030 goal is not exactly a straight line. Under the Franchise Agreement Xcel has committed to some stepwise targets or “benchmarks” in 2022, 2024, and 2027. See Franchise Agreement, Section 2.5 Opt-Out – GHG Progress (page 5).
What's the problem? Xcel's fuel mix is Boulder's fuel mix
Xcel’s Mix is Boulder’s Mix
Boulder’s electricity is provided by Xcel Energy which controls Boulder’s electricity energy mix.
Xcel’s 2022 portfolio is shown in the circle graph (59% to go to reach Boulder’s goal!)
Chart Source: Xcel Energy (PSCo’s 2022 10-K, page 5)
Goal 2. Boulder's progress toward its goal of 100 megawatts (MW) local renewable electricity generation by 2030 (independent of Xcel)
This Chart Shows Boulder's Progress Independent of Xcel
Boulder is making progress, independent of Xcel.
PUC decisions currently in progress that affect Boulder because we're in franchise with Xcel:
1. Xcel's Proposed Rate Increases
Xcel customer bill impact: Xcel plans 12% across the board rate increase.
Xcel's profits have soared skyrocketed multiplied
while the amount of electricity sold has stayed relatively flat
Xcel Colorado’s cumulative after-tax electricity profit from 2003 to 2022 totaled over $6.6 billion.
During that period, Xcel's annual profit increased $402M.
Inflation would have increased 2003 annual profit by just $87.3M. So Xcel’s annual profit increased at 4.6 times the rate of inflation.
Sources: Public Service Co. of Colorado, Annual 10K reports 2003 – 2022.
The cumulative emissions (CO2e) for 2005-2022 were 467.8 million tons of CO2 (from electricity only).
Xcel did not report CO2 emissions before 2005.
In Xcel’s preferred electricity generation portfolio presented at the PUC in March, 2021:
Xcel plans to continue to burn coal until 2031.
- Given climate change, this is unconscionable: millions of tons of CO2 into atmosphere annually
Xcel plans to build new fossil gas generation plants.
- resulting in increased rates, and
- continuing production of CO2, and
- the plants will likely become obsolete, resulting in further rate increases by Xcel when shut down
C. Boulder-Xcel Electric Utility Relationship — Franchise Agreement
Background on the 20-year Electric UtIlity Franchise Agreement
The Boulder-Xcel electric utility relationship is based on a Settlement Agreement that includes two components:
- Franchise Agreement Note: this link goes to Exhibit A, p. 16
- Partnership Agreement Note: this link goes to Exhibit B, p. 54
Electricity regulation and rates are the responsibility of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) (see above)
D. State Legislation
This section is being developed, please check back.