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Boulder Electric Utility


The municipalization/local power project began in 2010 to examine options that could provide Boulder residents, businesses and institutions with electricity that is increasingly clean, reliable and competitively priced while allowing for more local decision-making and control. After several years of analysis and community input, in 2013 City Council directed staff to move forward with activities to launch and operate a local electric utility. In 2015, Boulder began the regulatory process at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), filing an application for the transfer of certain assets owned by Xcel Energy’s Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) business unit to the city. In September 2017, the PUC issued a ruling on the city’s application creating a path forward to proceed with operating an electric utility.

In November 2017, Boulder voters approved a measure to continue funding electric utility work, reaffirming the community’s commitment, and the continued exploration of the operation of a municipal electric utility.  This funding enables the city to continue with legal and regulatory proceedings including preparing for condemnation, engineering design work, filing a Transmission to Load Interconnection application for what will be the city’s substations, Network Integrated Transmission Service (NITS) application, power supply evaluation and negotiation, implementation of the electric utility transition work plan and other start-up activities necessary to operate an electric utility. The information gathered in this phase will inform a community vote in 2020 on whether or not to issue debt to purchase the electric system and operate an electric utility.

2018 Milestones 

  • Continued work with Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) to meet the conditions of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) order (conditions and detailed design work) and filed final agreement and list of assets to be transferred by PSCo on 10/26/18.
  • Executed a contract for engineering design to separate the existing distribution system into two separate systems (separation design).
  • Continued work on the System Impact Study (SIS) to accommodate Boulder’s request for transmission-to-load service at new and acquired substations and received final SIS from PSCo.
  • Issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for engineering design of new substations and modifications to existing substations based on the results of the SIS.
  • Initiation of appraisal work for acquisition and ordinance allowing acquisition, including condemnation if necessary.
  • Issued a request and received indicative pricing for wholesale power supply.
  • Developed a Strategic Communication and Engagement Plan designed to inform and engage the public on the city’s energy strategies. The plan was developed in large part based on input received from the Boulder Energy Future Communications and Engagement Working Group and City Council.
  • Began updating the financial forecast tool with updated power supply scenarios and other updated assumptions.
  • Continued efforts with partner organizations in support of Boulder’s community climate and energy goals.

2019 Planned Actions 

  • Pursue acquisition of the local electric distribution system through good faith negotiations and potentially condemnation to determine the value.
  • Complete estimates of separation construction costs (distribution system and substations).
  • Develop and implement plan for securing power supply and transmission, including evaluation of any potential stranded costs.
  • Continue refinement of transition plan for post cut-over and associated budget.
  • Revise financial forecast tool with updated assumptions.
  • Identify specific power supply options through preliminary resource planning.
  • Continued implementation of communication and engagement plan.

Planned Action Beyond 2019 

In 2020, staff will return to council and the community for a go/no go decision to proceed with operating an electric utility once costs are refined and analyzed. Costs to be updated include purchase price, separation engineering costs, debt assumptions, power supply, revenue estimates, start-up costs, transition plan costs, and more. Some milestones for 2020 include:

  • Prepare pre-cutover financing package for rating agencies and investors and eventual bond issues.
  • Receive condemnation verdict.
  • Finalize transition plan and budget for pre-cutover period.
  • Issue requests for proposals for utility operations and outsourcing of services.
  • Finalize financial forecast.
  • Finalize power supply contracts prior to Day 1.
  • Present analysis to council to inform feasibility of operating an electric utility and proceeding to a community vote.

Anticipated Council Action


  • Adopt Acquisition Ordinance (including condemnation authority)


  • Continued updates on process and refinements


  • Policy decision on feasibility of operating an electric utility and proceeding to the voters 

Contact Information 

Steve Catanach, Electric Utility Development Director, [email protected], 303-441-1923