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Boulder Votes To Create Greener Utility

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- Voters in Boulder have taken the first step to saying “Goodbye” to Xcel Energy. They voted to create a new and greener municipal power utility.

The vote margin for the proposal that passed in Tuesday’s election was 52-to-48 percent.

Boulder has a reputation to being hardcore when it comes to protecting the environment. It was the first city in the country to pass a carbon tax. Now, it wants to set up its own utility, one that would pursue renewable energy aggressively.

“The reasons why the city chose this path is Xcel has basically said they are not going to go beyond what the state law requires, which at this point is a 30 percent renewable energy standard. Boulder said, ‘We can do better than that’,” said former Boulder Mayor Shaun McGrath.

McGrath championed the ballot measure. He said the vote is just the beginning of a long process.

The city presented its plan at a news conference and said the first step will be to determine the cost.

“If something unusual happens and we find out that it’s just an unusually high number, than it could be the council would say we don’t wish to move forward any further. But I think that’s unlikely to happen,” said Boulder City Manager Jane Brautigam.

Boulder hasn’t said what percentage of its energy will come from renewable, but it’s aiming high.

“The modeling that was done here locally shows that we could see larger penetrations of renewables, up to 40 or 50 percent,” said Boulder Sustainability Coordinator Jonathan Koehn.

Xcel is skeptical that Boulder can meet its goals and still maintain competitive rates, which is a requirement of the measure. But the city is confident.

“I think that we can be a little more nimble on a smaller scale, we can make local decisions that are based on local priorities,” said Boulder Planning & Stability David Driskell.

McGrath hopes other cities will follow their example.

“If Boulder can do it, we sure hope others will follow,” said McGrath.

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