BOULDER - A new group of city officials, Xcel Energy representatives and community members will discuss alternatives to forming a municipal energy utility, the Boulder City Council decided Tuesday.

The group will be made up of three Boulder city employees, three Xcel Energy representatives and 12 residents, said Sarah Huntley, a city spokeswoman. The group is slated to meet in six two-hour sessions to discuss how the city and Xcel can work together, Huntley said. The first meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 9.

The list of nine people identified to be part of the group so far, according to Huntley, includes Sanders "Skip" Arnold, executive director of Energy Outreach Colorado, a nonprofit group that provides energy assistance for low-income people, and a former executive with Xcel Energy;

Eric Blank, former energy project director with the predecessor organization to Western Resource Advocates and co-founder of Community Energy Inc., a company that develops clean-energy technologies;

Ann Livingston, director of market development for Snugg Home, a developer of energy-efficiency analysis software;

Pete Lorenzen, a vice president at IBM;

Sean Maher, Downtown Boulder Inc. executive director;

Diana Moss, vice president and senior research fellow at the American Antitrust Institute;

John Nielson, energy program director at Western Resource Advocates;

John Tayer, chief executive and president of the Boulder Chamber;

Sam Weaver, manager of daily business operations at Cool Energy Inc., a waste heat recovery company.

"Their task will be to explore and vet the possibility of the ways that we could work together on achieving the city's energy goals," Huntley said. The city's goals include making sure Boulder residents and businesses have access to reliable power that is increasingly clean and competitively priced, according to information on the city's website. The community also wants as much of its energy as possible to be generated locally and wants more of a say about where power comes from, what it costs and what investments are made with the revenue.

A facilitator will be hired to run the meetings, Huntley said. City officials and Xcel representatives have agreed to split the cost to pay the person, who has not yet been named, Huntley said. Money to pay the facilitator may come from city manager Jane Brautigam's contingency budget, Huntley said.

The group is expected to make recommendations to the city in mid-July, Huntley said. Some topics up for discussion by the group will include how to decrease greenhouse-gas emissions and increase renewable-energy use, how to maintain reliability and how to offer competitive and predictable rates for customers, Huntley said.

Xcel representatives look forward to hearing what others in the group have to say, said Michelle Aguayo, an Xcel Energy spokeswoman.

"We think it's important to sit down with our customers and look at different ideas and different options - not just customers in Boulder or Colorado, but throughout Xcel Energy," Aguayo said. "We look forward to sitting down with them and hearing their ideas."

At the same time, city officials will continue to study how to create a municipal energy utility, Huntley said. Boulder voters in November 2011 narrowly approved two ballot measures on the topic.

One ballot measure approved a $1.9 million annual budget for five years to study how to create a municipal energy utility. The other gave the Boulder City Council the authority to create such a utility under certain conditions.

A city council vote on whether to move forward with municipalization plans is set for Tuesday, April 16.

"We're moving forward on both fronts at the same time," Huntley said. "Timing is important, because if the city council decides on April 16 to take the next steps on legal proceedings, we think the council and the community would like to have an idea on what the alternatives are before August."

August is the anticipated time the city has set for deciding whether or not to enter good-faith negotiations with Xcel to consider acquiring Xcel's infrastructure including assets and equipment, Huntley said.

As the city moves forward, its next steps also are expected to include bond discussions with potential investors, Huntley said. Government groups often use bonds to fund infrastructure projects.