Last night’s Boulder City Council meeting proved another disappointment as far as giving Boulder voters a real choice regarding the city’s electric utility options. We are going to get to vote on two ballot questions: approve municipalizing the City’s electric utility and approve the bond issue to pay for it. These are not choices! If the city is concerned about being tied in to only two choices – municipalization or granting Xcel another twenty year franchise, why not offer another ballot option? A “None of the above” option (if it wins) would give the city more time to explore other renewable sources to meet its green energy goals, and possibly more time to negotiate with Xcel about building additional wind capacity to meet Boulder’s electricity needs. I believe people in Boulder are finally getting a real sense of what municipalization is all about, thanks to the city’s outreach efforts and coverage in the media. The city’s attempt to force us to “rush to judgment” by November does not make any sense, as many people pointed out during last night’s Council meeting.
Another major concern is the city staff estimate of the cost of acquiring Xcel’s electric infrastructure in the city. City staff must have been inspired by the folks who assessed Macon Cowles’ $1.57 million home at $700,000. If the city thinks it is not going to have to pay Xcel stranded costs and other expenses not included in their estimates, the city will get a very unpleasant surprise. Before any ballot issue is put to voters we need realistic estimates of the true cost of municipalization – both immediate and long-term.