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Boulder Electricity Flap Likely Headed To Voters

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BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) — The Boulder City Council has voted to take over the power lines, substations and other assets Xcel Energy owns.

It’s considered a big step forward in the city’s move to leave the energy company based out of Minnesota and create its own electric company.

“This is a kind of way for Boulder to lead as it has done with open space, it has done with growth limitations and now lead on power,” said Sam Weaver.

Weaver is part of the environmental coalition “Empower Our Future” which is supporting the new utility.

“I’m against it,” said Boulder resident Steve Haymes.

Haymes worked at the National Renewable Energy Labs as a modeler.
He said the city has grossly underestimated the cost of going it alone.

“To put all your eggs in one model basket is a bad modeling procedure. What the city did was use one and only one model,” said Haymes.

“It’s an honest difference of opinions,” said Weaver.

When voters approved the idea of exploring other options for energy it was contingent on rates and reliability remaining the same or better.

The City of Boulder said its model shows it can increase renewable energy by 50 percent, cut emissions in half and still have lower rates.

“There are solar panels on this house, there are solar panels on that house, there is a lot going on and people are really behind this,” said Weaver.

Those who don’t support the plan believe the city can do better if it stays with Xcel.

Kari Christ-Janer is an environmentalist who fought for the carbon tax in Boulder but is fighting against the new utility.

“One small municipal utility really cannot change the world in the same way as a large utility moving forward,” said Christ-Janer. “I worry there could be multiple years of litigation and it will just turn into a hornet’s nest of issues that will be a nightmare for both parties.”

Boulder voters are likely to be asked to approve a $214 million debt limit on the acquisition of Xcel Energy’s physical assets in November.

It requires a third vote on Aug. 20 before being finalized for the ballot.

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