PUC will have say in municipalization effort
Last Updated: 16:34 October 9, 2013
For Boulder, that means the city would need to bring its plan for acquisition before the PUC, outlining which assets it is targeting, before filing any sort of condemnation suit. The PUC would then determine the feasibility of that plan, and what further facilities would be needed to keep the system operating reliably on both sides of the split. And, if a duplication of substations or other equipment is required as a result of the acquisition, the commissioners stated that it is their belief that the city of Boulder should have to pay for the construction of those facilities.
The commission also asserted Wednesday that it has full regulatory authority over customers outside the Boulder city limits who would be served by a municipal electric utility.
The decisions came in the form of recommendations to the commissioners from PUC staff, though the commissioners voiced their agreement during the hearing. An official written decision will be issued by the PUC sometime in the next couple of weeks.
"Not a great decision for us," Boulder city attorney Tom Carr said. "Not horrible either depending on how it's written."
Both city and Xcel officials stopped short of too much more analysis without seeing the details in the written decision.
As part of Boulder's municipalization plan, the city is looking to take several Xcel substations, including two that serve both city and county customers. Carr said the right of the city to condemn that equipment, both inside and outside city limits, is granted by the Colorado constitution. But Xcel has argued that the city does not have the right to serve county customers without PUC approval.
"We think that this is helpful to get this clarification on this issue now since all of Boulder's options included assumptions that they could serve county customers," Xcel spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo said.
Carr said the city could appeal the PUC's decision in district court, but added that a decision whether to do so won't come until the city has seen the written decision.
As it stands, the PUC decision could cause a significant delay to Boulder's condemnation efforts. City council adopted a plan in August that would allow for city staff to file a condemnation suit as early as January if a deal to acquire Xcel's assets couldn't be reached sooner.
If Boulder has to take its plan for a split before the PUC before condemnation proceedings, the PUC would have up to 210 days to issue a ruling according to state law, PUC spokeswoman Becky Quintana said.
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