Crucial point for Boulder utility debate
That’s the message that local business and civic leaders want to convey to the city of Boulder, which is slowly but surely marching toward a decision on whether to municipalize the city’s electrical utility.
After years devoted to study, debate, campaigning and more study, the Boulder City Council now has six options presented by the city staff, including five that envision some level of municipalization, and one based on continuing to contract with Xcel Energy.
As the council weighs its options, business leaders want to ensure that any future municipal utility:
• Maintains reliability. Every electrical user wants to know that when they flip a switch, the lights will come on. But that’s especially crucial to large employers such as IBM Corp., Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and the University of Colorado-Boulder. Breakdowns in electrical service can result in millions of dollars in damage to sensitive instruments and experiments. Reliability at least as good as that which Xcel provides is non-negotiable.
• Maintains affordability. Although ballot measures passed narrowly by voters in November 2011 require rate parity at the time assets would be acquired from Xcel, this remains a huge question for business owners, especially large employers. How will that rate parity be determined? What would happen to rates, especially for business owners, after a utility is launched?
• Actually reduces greenhouse-gas emissions. The city needs to ensure that improvements to the city’s portfolio aren’t accomplished by shifting renewables from elsewhere.
Most importantly, the business community, including some who backed passage of measures 2B and 2C, wants the city to fully explore all options of working with Xcel Energy.
As much as the city has done already, the work has just begun.
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