Boulder, Xcel Energy Reach Potential Agreement on Boulder’s Clean Energy Future
If approved by city council and voters, the agreement would cement carbon emission caps, enable innovative grid and clean generation projects, and target collaborative efforts to improve Colorado regulations on renewables
The City of Boulder and Xcel Energy announced on July 28 they have reached a potential settlement that, if approved by the City Council and Boulder voters, would create new pathways to reach the city’s clean energy and emissions goals and suspend the city’s decade-long municipalization effort.
The agreement could result in a new franchise agreement as well as several other contracts between Boulder and Xcel Energy, and would achieve multiple city and Xcel Energy objectives.
“The settlement we are bringing forward today is the culmination of decades of community-led activism to build an energy future that’s better for our planet and our community,” said Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver. “We have the opportunity to secure in this agreement historic changes in the relationship between the community and its energy provider. Boulder, a small city that thinks big, has long strived for a clean community energy system that shares our values, and I want to thank Xcel Energy for their willingness to grow and improve as a company through working with us.”
“We’ve always believed we could accomplish more by working together and we’re pleased to have reached an understanding that supports both Xcel Energy’s vision to deliver carbon-free electricity to customers by 2050 and achieves Boulder’s own clean energy goals”, said Alice Jackson, president, Xcel Energy - Colorado. “We look forward to continuing to serve our Boulder customers and exploring ways to enhance our clean energy strategy. We hope to share what we learn with communities across the state and beyond Colorado. We appreciate Boulder’s leadership and dedication to achieving these ambitious environmental goals.”
A key element of the proposed 20-year franchise agreement is the right for Boulder to resume municipalization efforts at the five-, 10- or 15-year anniversaries for any reason, and in 2023, 2025, and 2028 if Xcel Energy fails to meet specified emission targets. The proposal also preserves Boulder’s ability to create a local electric utility in the future by reducing future potential litigation.
Another deal component is a pathway for Boulder to achieve 100% renewable electricity in Boulder by updating Boulder’s electric grid, sharing data and developing innovative demonstration projects under the guidance of a community board. The parties have also committed to work collaboratively to change current regulations that limit innovation and local renewable development.
Negotiations between the city and Xcel Energy began in April, with the parties meeting dozens of times over the three months of talks. In the negotiations, the city brought forward much of the community input that was expressed during the parallel public engagement process. The city held four virtual listening sessions in June attended by nearly 200 community members. The City Council and Xcel Energy also heard from hundreds of community members via email.
City Council received a briefing on the agreements at the July 28 meeting, and will discuss them again on Aug. 4 for the first reading of the proposed franchise agreement. The second reading and public hearing are scheduled for Aug. 18.
If City Council votes to place the proposed franchise agreement on the fall ballot, voters will determine whether or not the city will enter into the franchise agreement, as required by the city charter. The franchise agreement is also subject to approval by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to consider the new franchise soon after potential voter approval.
About Local Power
Boulder’s Energy Future goals were established to build an energy future that is clean, local, reliable, secure and provides value back to the community.
Boulder’s efforts have begun to chart a path for 21st-century municipalization. Since the project began, the city has cleared several significant milestones, including gaining regulatory approval of the city’s separation plan, developing detailed engineering plans that will safely separate Boulder’s electric system from Xcel’s, creating robust financial analysis tools that demonstrate the financial viability of a local electric utility and receiving bids from power providers that demonstrate the potential to access high levels of renewables for lower costs. Throughout this process, Boulder has engaged its active and knowledgeable community to help shape its efforts towards an energy future that is clean, affordable, equitable, reliable and resilient.
About Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy has a successful track record of reducing carbon emissions, keeping bills low and expanding clean energy sources in Colorado while also helping customers reduce their own energy use to support a cleaner environment. In Colorado today, 30 percent of the company’s energy comes from renewable sources. The transformative Colorado Energy Plan will increase that renewable percentage to fifty-five by 2026 and deliver a 60 percent carbon reduction.
Through collaboration with the State of Colorado during the 2019 Legislative session, the trajectory to achieve the 2030 target of 80 percent carbon reduction is well underway. The Company will bring forward plans to achieve this carbon reduction goal in the Spring of 2021.
Emily Sandoval, City of Boulder: 970-210-1225
Michelle Aguayo, Xcel Energy: 303-294-2300