Boulder, Xcel reach settlement to suspend muni push

BOULDER — Boulder has struck a deal with Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE: XEL) that sets the stage for the city to suspend its decade-long quest to form a municipal utility. The potential settlement requires city council approval. A first reading is set for Aug. 4 followed by a public hearing and vote on Aug. 18. A franchise agreement between the city and the utility would then have to be approved by voters. “The settlement we are bringing forward today is the culmination of decades of community-led activism to build an energy future that’s better for our planet and our community,” Mayor Sam Weaver said in a prepared statement. “We have the opportunity to secure in this agreement historic changes in the relationship between the community and its energy provider. Boulder, a small city that thinks big, has long strived for a clean community energy system that shares our values, and I want to thank Xcel Energy for their willingness to grow and improve as a company through working with us.” Boulder initially sought to create its own electric utility in order to increase its share of electricity generated from renewable sources while decreasing carbon emissions that lead to climate change. The city’s objective is to provide 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and achieve 80 percent emission reductions by 2050. The proposed settlement allows the city “to resume municipalization efforts at the five-, 10- or 15-year anniversaries for any reason, and in 2023, 2025, and 2028 if Xcel Energy fails to meet specified emission targets,” according to a Boulder news release. Should the city and Xcel ultimately reach a franchise agreement, it would bring to an end a legal saga that went all the way to the state’s highest court.  In June 2019, Boulder City Council voted to repeal a 2014 ordinance that provided a pathway for the city to establish a municipal electric utility, a decision that allowed a lawsuit settlement with Xcel to move forward. Xcel, through affiliate Public Service Company of Colorado, sued the city over the formation of that utility, which was never actually used, arguing that Boulder City Council overstepped its authority based on limitations of an amendment to the city’s charter in 2011. The amendment gave the city council authority to create a utility only if it first satisfied requirements showing the utility’s financial viability and service reliability. A Boulder District Court judge dismissed Xcel’s suit in 2015, a decision that was reversed by the Colorado Court of Appeals the following year. The Colorado Supreme Court then overturned both of those decisions, sending the case back to a lower court. This May, city officials announced negotiations with Xcel to end the municipalization push. As of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, the potential settlement was being presented to council by Boulder staff.
Source: BizWest

Related Articles