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United States

Xcel pulls out of Boulder talks

UNITED STATES: Utility Xcel Energy has abandoned talks with the Colorado city of Boulder on the renewal of its 20-year electricity franchise, which was set to include a 90% wind target.

Boulder, Colorado is looking to set up a municipal utility
Boulder, Colorado is looking to set up a municipal utility

Xcel is already required under state law to provide 30% of Boulder’s electricity by renewable sources by 2020, but as part of its negotiations for a new franchise, it had proposed to build a new wind farm locally within the next nine years that would allow Boulder to receive 90% of it electricity from wind farms.

However, the future of Boulder’s electricity supply is set to be decided by voters tomorrow and the city is pushing its own proposal of the creation of a municipal utility rather than signing an exclusive deal with Xcel.

Xcel said it withdrew from the talks due to the city’s refusal to include the 90% wind plan on the ballot and instead only offered voters a renewal of the existing 20-year franchise as the alternative to the municipalisation plan.

"We feel strongly that it is important to provide Boulder citizens with all options available and, pursuant to the city charter, let the voters decide," said Xcel in a statement.

"Unfortunately, the city does not want to leave the decision to its citizens. It wants to limit the options available to voters. That is why the wind proposal to provide 90% renewable energy will, unfortunately, not be provided to voters. That is the source of our disappointment. Xcel Energy wants voters to decide, not us or the city."

The City’s recommendation that voters back the municipal utility plan follows more than two years of discussions about whether to enter into another 20-year franchise agreement with Xcel Energy.

In 2010, the city council rejected that option, determining that a business-as-usual contract for two decades was too long and would limit Boulder’s ability to take advantage of exciting changes in the energy industry. Since then, the city and the community have been involved in a study and discussion of other options.

"I am proud of the solid analysis that has gone into the city’s exploration of its energy supply options so far," said city manager Jane Brautigam.

"The data we have shows that the creation of a local power utility can be accomplished in a financially responsible way. Such a utility would have a unique ability to chart a future that positions Boulder to be a successful leader in both economic and environmental sustainability."

 

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