Boulder exploring "utility of the future"


Research from the City of Boulder indicates that the creation of an unregulated municipal utility could mean lower average rates for 20 years, greenhouse gas reductions and solid reliability.The city looked at several options for meeting is future energy needs, using the Xcel model in existence today (without changes) as the baseline.

Credit: Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade's Office of Film Television & Media

The research results identify several forms a new utility could take without compromising its desire for cleaner and greener energy with rates and reliability comparable to or better than those provided by Xcel Energy without a loss of local control and decision-making.

Under some of the options analyzed, a municipal electric utility would meet the Charter metrics related to rates, revenue sufficiency and reliability, greenhouse gas reductions and increased renewable energy sources and have a high likelihood of being able to offer residential, commercial and industrial customers lower rates over 20 years;  maintain or exceed current levels of system reliability and emergency response; reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50 percent and exceed the Kyoto Protocol target in year one; obtain 54 percent or more of its electricity from renewable resources; and provide a test-bed for emerging technology, creating a model public electric utility with leading-edge innovations in reliability, energy efficiency, renewable energy, economic development and customer service.

The city's research results don't necessarily have to mean the separate creation of its own utility to the detriment of Xcel Energy. Other options could help the city achieve its goal of creating "the electric utility of the future," such as a partnership with Xcel, for which the city has also done its research and provided ideas to Xcel. The utility has expressed an interest in meeting with the city to discuss the ideas.

"What we are looking to do is move beyond a 19th century approach to providing energy and create a forward-looking, innovative and consumer-friendly utility model that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels," said Heather Bailey, executive director of energy strategy and electric utility development. "Xcel Energy has served us for decades, and in many ways, done an admirable job. It is possible they could help us meet our objectives. We would welcome their involvement in a meaningful, timely and transparent discussion."

For more:
- see this memo
- read this report