In a recent letter to the editor, Marjorie Blizard noted that when hurricane Irene struck Connecticut, munis had power restored to all customers in 2 days. Connecticut’s investor-owned utilities (think Xcel) took 7 or more days. Massachusetts had a similar experience. (Google “municipal utilities shine in storm”). Why? The cities planned, trained, and coordinated across departments so that the fire and parks staff could chainsaw trees, the water department backhoe operators could plant power poles, leaving city linemen to work on the wires.
If a disaster is too big to handle locally, linemen come from all over to help, just as firemen came from all over to fight the Four-Mile fire. We would have reciprocal support agreements across local, regional, and national boundaries allowing us to bring linemen from outside, including Colorado Springs, Aspen, rural coops, and Fort Collins
Speaking of Fort Collins, they have hands-down the best reliability in the state (with 99% of Fort Collins’ wires underground, Fort Collins linemen laugh at snow). Fort Collins also has much better rates than we have, and world-class renewable and efficiency innovation (see FortZED.com). A Boulder muni could explore undergrounding all of our wires, and have strong innovation as well.
Winter Park, Florida, municipalized in 2005. They developed a partnership with neighborhoods to bury power lines where the cost is split between customers and the utility. Each block of neighbors can choose to pay a bit more on their bills and get their power lines buried right away. With Xcel we have no such choice.
Boulder deserves innovation, competitive rates, and reliability. Vote YES on 2B and 2C to explore all of our options.