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Local Power

Local Power Logo

Clean local reliable and provides value

What is Local Power?

Local Power was the city's effort to bring clean, local, affordable and reliable electricity to the community by developing a community-owned local electric utility. 

Local power was a component of the city's Energy Future strategy, as well as the city's Climate Commitment. 

In November 2020, Boulder voters directed the city to pause its Local Power efforts and focus on creating a new partnership with Xcel Energy, the city's incumbent electric utility. 

Project History

Local Power was a highly complex multi-year effort. This section provides only a high-level history of the project. For more details on Local Power history, please browse City Council archives (search for 'municipalization') and the city's Energy Future litigation records archive.

2010: Municipalization Begins

The City of Boulder began exploring the creation of a local electric utility, a process called municipalization, in 2010, after voters directed the city to allow its franchise agreement with Xcel Energy to expire. At that time, the Boulder community was seeking ways to shift how its electricity was produced. Xcel's energy mix in 2010 was over 98% coal, which posed significant challenges to the achieving the community's greenhouse gas reduction targets. 

In 2011, voters approved funding to explore the creation of a local electric utility. If created, the utility would serve Boulder customers, much like city-run utilities in Longmont, Fort Collins, Loveland and Estes Park. While other Colorado communities had municipalized in the past, Boulder's effort was the first attempt in several decades. 

2011 to 2014: Analysis Demonstrates Local Power's Feasibility

In the project's early years, the city conducted robust feasibility analysis, answering the question Can the city municipalize? The city's analysis demonstrated that could municipalize at reasonable cost and that a local electric utility could dramatically reduce the carbon intensity of the community's electricity generation. 

2015 to 2018: City Seeks State Regulatory Approval  

In order to create a local electric utility, the city sought to modify the existing electricity system that served Boulder. To do so, the city planned to purchase Xcel Energy's existing infrastructure, through a process called condemnation, and create a separate electric delivery system that would serve only Boulder customers. This separation plan required state approval. 

The city filed its original separation application at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in 2015. Much of the work between 2015 and 2017 focused on gaining PUC approval. The commission granted conditional approval in fall 2017. 

2019 to 2020: Local Power Takes Shape

After state regulators unconditionally approved the city's separation plan in 2019, the city promised to give voters the final say on whether the city would complete municipalization. In this period, the city's efforts shifted to developing a clear picture of the financial, technical and operational details and providing these key details to the community. 

Two items comprised the bulk of this work: developing detailed engineering plans for the separation and beginning the process to condemn Xcel's electric infrastructure assests under the city's eminent domain powers. In fall 2020, the city completed its detailed separation plan. The city's condemnation case was in the appeals process when the 2020 election occured.   

2020: Voters Direct City to Sign New Franchise with Xcel

In spring 2020, representatives from the City of Boulder and Xcel Energy began negotiations to settle the city's municipalization effort. In June, the city and Xcel hosted a series of town halls to share information and get feedback on the potential settlement. City Council decided to place a new franchise on the ballot and Boulder voters approved the franchise and a partnership-funding measure in November 2020.

 


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1101 Arapahoe Ave.

Boulder, CO 80302

303-441-3274

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Steve Catanach

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