BOULDER — The city of Boulder is paying three companies a total of $230,000 to assist in the first phase of its ongoing efforts to consider the possible creation of a city-owned electric utility.

Public Financial Management Inc. will advise the city on financial matters related to municipalization, including cost modeling, rate projection and bonding scenarios. The company is based in Philadelphia and most of the advisers working on the project are based in California and Washington, D.C.

Two engineering firms — Exponential Engineering Co. and Schneider Electric SA — will offer advice on separating Xcel Energy Inc.’s distribution system from the assets a city utility would need, as well as the engineering and technical steps the city would want to take to operate the utility. Exponential Engineering is based in Fort Collins, and Schneider Electric is based in France and has an office in Denver.

Schneider Electric will develop a “best practices” manual to help the city provide reliable energy within a variety of customer groups as a service rather than a commodity.

The contracts signed with each company provide for maximum payments of $120,000 to Exponential Engineering, $70,000 to PFM and $40,000 to Schneider Electric.