I have been watching the debate on the municipalization of Boulder’s electric utility with much interest. Before I retired I managed Boulder’s Division of what is now Excel Energy and have some experience as to what is involved with such an undertaking.
I find a lot of optimism in the city model and little consideration for the downside of the operation of such an endeavor. Much can go wrong and it is very costly when it does. As one example, an early or late snow storm can cost millions of dollars that can only be recovered through rates charged to customers.
So why are we considering municipalization? A year ago, the city indicated that the municipalization alternative was only a means to an important end – more renewable energy and a reduced carbon footprint. I have to wonder about this now. The City’s feasibility study doesn’t contain any funding for more renewables or an energy supply mix with lower carbon emissions. The study also omits funding for energy efficiency programs (Xcel spent $5.6 million in 2010 on Boulder’s Demand Side Management), and the City has no budget planned for solar rebates to continue the rooftop solar installations in Boulder (Xcel has spent over $38 million toward Boulder solar since 2006).
I have often said that a Company’s or City’s Soul is its Budget. Locking in the initial rates is just a ploy to get votes but over time the rates will go up considerably. Remember, the only ones to pay for all of the operating costs and materials are you-the rate payer.
I am skeptical of pie-in-the-sky promises. Facts are facts. Xcel and Public Service Company have 120 years of service, knowledge and commitment to Boulder. Consider the response to the Four Mile Canyon fire last year. They know how to run a system and customers are assured to receive reliable and cost effective service.
Please vote NO on 2B and 2C.