Boulder official pushes wind energy
Last Updated: 17:36 March 28, 2012
BOULDER - Customers ultimately could see lower bills and get more environmentally friendly energy as a result of the city council's focus on electricity this year, Boulder's deputy mayor Ken Wilson told a business group Thursday morning.
Boulder officials are trying to decide how the city will pay for power in the future, after voters in November approved a ballot question to generate about $1.4 million per year through 2015 with an occupation tax on Xcel Energy. The tax replaced a franchise fee that the city lost when a 20-year franchise agreement with Xcel expired at the end of 2010.
As a result of the vote, Boulder could take municipal control of its electricity supply after 2015, work with Xcel on a new franchise agreement that includes more renewable sources or go another route.
Using more wind power may be the best option, Wilson said at a Boulder Tomorrow meeting held at A Spice of Life Event Center & Catering Services at 5706 Arapahoe Ave.
"Coal is going up in price," Wilson said. "When you put in a wind farm, that's what it is. It's one of the reasons I'd like to see the city invest in wind."
In general, renewable energy is more expensive to produce than energy from existing power plants, Wilson said. Coal and petroleum are subsidized by the government through tax credits, however, as is solar power, he pointed out.
"We never think about (subsidies) because they've been there for so long. It's a good question if all the subsidies were taken away from everything, what would it cost?" Wilson said.
Businesses may be asked to get involved in the energy financing discussion, Wilson said Thursday. Voters also may be asked to vote on a ballot issue in November regarding energy, city manager Jane S. Brautigam has said.
When cities take over electricity generation, it's usually because they can issue municipal bonds to build plants, resulting in lower costs for customers, Wilson said. It's unclear if the city's push toward more renewable energy would yield a similar result, he said.
"Most cities do (municipal bonds) to get cheaper power," Wilson said. "Boulder is doing it to get renewables."
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