Boulder looks ahead to forcing Xcel's hand
But it was hardly a magic snap of the fingers that will have the city operating that utility any time soon. Rather, it merely set in motion a process that could last well into 2015.
City council voted 6-3 to approve ordinance 7918, which authorizes city staff to begin the process of acquiring the system, including doing so by eminent domain if good faith negotiations fail.
The ordinance goes into effect Sept. 19, but city staff has appraisers working on valuations of the Xcel property in preparation for negotiations that could last several months. City Council has directed staff to continue to work with Xcel on options and products that the company could provide that could help the city reach its renewable energy goals without creating its own utility.
If those talks fail, the earliest the ordinance allows the city to file for condemnation is Jan. 1. From the time condemnation action is filed, a court's determination of whether Boulder has the right to condemn Xcel's property would come about 90 days later.
If the court grants Boulder the authority to condemn, the dates for a two to three week trial would be set at that time, likely for 10 to 14 months down the road. In the meantime, attorneys for the city and Xcel would go through the discovery and dispute resolution process, including arguments over what evidence should or shouldn't be allowed in front of a jury.
If condemnation were filed at the start of 2014, the earliest trial date would be during the first quarter or early second quarter of 2015, with appeals likely to follow.
The city and Xcel could continue to negotiate, though Xcel said it has no intention to sell its assets or partner with Boulder in any ways other than offering new renewable energy products.
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