Council to review municipalization plan
The plan outlines a potential timetable the city could follow if it goes through with municipalization and lists potential "go/no-go" decisions, the first of which could be made in the first quarter of 2013.
The work plan, which still is in draft form, was created under the direction of Heather Bailey, Boulder's new executive director of energy strategy and electric utility development. Bailey was hired in April to guide the city through its study of municipalization and to possibly help it launch an electric utility.
The plan outlines subjects city staffers and advisers need to research further before making a recommendation about whether or not the city should create a utility. City Council will review the plan in a study session, which means it can give staff directions and feedback but cannot formally adopt a policy.
The study session is a chance for City Council to tell staff if it is on the right track and to let it know how the city is spending its time and money, city spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said.
The first phase, which is projected to be complete by the first quarter of 2013, is devoted to developing a strategy and conducting research, according to a memo prepared for city council.
The city has to consider several complex issues before a recommendation can be made, Huntley said. Among the issues to be addressed are how reliably Boulder could supply power and at what cost. The amount of renewable energy used, financial projections and an operational outline have to be developed.
So too would the city's legal strategy if it comes into conflict with Xcel Energy Inc., Boulder's current energy provider. Xcel Energy owns the transmission system in Boulder and has said it does not want to give up the market and its assets.
Boulder and Xcel could be headed to state court and a federal regulatory panel to determine what Boulder would need to pay to take over the system, should they not be able to agree on a price.
After the end of the research phase, staff intends to have a well-developed plan the city would follow to create a utility should it choose to do so, the memo said.
The phase culminates in the first of several decision points or "off ramps" where City Council could make the first "go/no-go" decision, according to the memo.
Phase II could begin early next year and last up to five years. During that time the city would negotiate with Xcel or condemn the grid, go through state and federal legal proceedings and hire a third party evaluator to review its plan. Phase III would consist of setting up and staffing the new municipal utility.
The work plan is available online at www.BouldersEnergyFuture.com.
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