BOULDER - Some 43 people have downloaded information about a consulting job, the task of which would be to verify that a possible city-run utility would not charge rates above those Xcel Energy Inc. charges city residents.

Boulder officials plan to hire the "independent third-party consultant" by May 16, to verify modeling information that city staff and consultants came up with about possible rates and other issues, the city said in an online document. The consultant or company hired to do the job is expected to present findings to the Boulder City Council on July 23.

Applicants must download a city "request for proposal" and submit it to the city. The application deadline is Monday, April 29. Boulder city government staffers are not releasing how much the city expects to pay for the job so that they can get "more objective bids" about its cost, said Patrick von Keyserling, Boulder's communications director.

The contract amount is expected to be made public once a consultant is chosen, von Keyserling said.

Boulder voters in November 2011 narrowly approved two ballot measures that allow the city to explore creating its own electric utility and create a budget of $1.9 million annually for five years to pay for related work. City Council members on April 16, voted to hire the consultant.

At the same time, Boulder staffers doing research on the city-run utility expect to get together with staff at the Platte River Power Authority in Fort Collins this week to exchange information, said Heather Bailey, Boulder's executive director for energy strategy and electric-utility development. Bailey did not give a specific time for the meeting. The nonprofit utility generates power for Estes Park, Fort Collins, Longmont and Loveland.

The meeting will not be about possible partnerships or planning, Bailey said..

"It's no formal planning or anything like that. We just plan to get together and talk about what's going on," Bailey said.

Bailey said she and her staff have met with representatives of utilities locally and nationally as part of their research on how to create a city-owned utility. Bailey mentioned the Western Area Power Authority in Lakewood and Colorado Springs Utilities as two with which she and her staff have met in the past.

"A lot of it is just learning," Bailey said. "We talk to utilities about all sorts of different things."