Partnership With Xcel Energy
Partnership with Xcel Energy (2010 to 2016)
One of the options for achieving the city's goal of decarbonizing our electricity supply is a partnership with Xcel Energy. You can learn about those efforts below.
Xcel Energy is Boulder’s Current Monopoly Electric Provider
Electric customers in Boulder are served by Xcel Energy. Since Colorado is a regulated state, customers have no choice in who provides them with power. For many years, the city had a franchise agreement with Xcel—this agreement granted Xcel the right to use the streets and rights-of-way in Boulder as part of providing utility services.
In 2005, the city and Xcel began discussing the renewal of the 20-year franchise agreement, which was set to expire in 2010. The city also began to explore municipalization (creating a city-owned and -operated electric utility. In 2008, that analysis was suspended in order to focus on Xcel’s SmartGridCity pilot and negotiate a series of side agreements to the franchise that would help meet Boulder’s climate and energy goals. More about that process is available in a 2010 council study session memo.
Although the city initially believed that progress was possible using side agreements, it did not occur. The franchise agreement was allowed to expire—by state law, Xcel must provide electric service even in the absence of a franchise agreement. Instead, in 2010, Boulder voters approved a “utility occupation tax” that substituted for the franchise fee that funds general city services, as well as funds the city’s exploration of municipalization.