Project Overview

In November 2020, voters paused the community’s municipalization efforts and approved a new franchise with Xcel Energy. By passing the franchise agreement, voters also approved a partnership between the City of Boulder and Xcel Energy.

Through this partnership, the city and Xcel are working together to make our energy grid cleaner and more resilient; make buildings more efficient and less reliant on natural gas; and support community-wide adoption of electric vehicles. The Partnership also provides a pathway to test, innovate and then scale innovations so they have an impact beyond Boulder.

Partnership Work Plan

The city and Xcel Energy recently released an overview of the Partnership Work Plan that charts collaboration and innovation between our organizations over the next three years. The overview also calculates the energy savings and greenhouse gas reductions of proposed projects, providing a roadmap toward a greener energy future. It was developed by city and Xcel Energy staff, with input and review from the Community Advisory Panel. This plan will be updated every three years, and progress on key performance metrics and partnership goals will be reported annually.

View the full Partnership Overview.

View the First Year Partnership Accomplishments


Several groups, including the public, provide input and oversight into the partnership.

Duties: Responsible for oversight of the partnership agreement, including communication and collaboration between the city and Xcel to achieve the partnership's goals.

Meeting Frequency: The Executive Team meets several times per year to review progress and address any issues that might arise.

Members: Community members appointed to the Panel represent residents, businesses and the University of Colorado Boulder.


City Manager, Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde

Chris Meschuk, Deputy City Manager

Sarah Huntley, Director of Communications and Engagement

Carl Castillo, Chief Policy Advisor

Jonathan Koehn, Director of Climate Initiatives

Robert Kenney, President of Xcel Energy - Colorado

Hollie Velasquez-Horvath, RVP, State Affairs and Community Relations

Rachel Nance, Senior Director of Customer Relations and Strategic Accounts

Duties: The Project Oversight Team oversees the day-to-day activities of the partnership and ensures organizational accountability for delivering on projects and priorities.

Meeting Frequency: Monthly



Carolyn Elam, Senior Manager, Climate Initiatives

Matthew Lehrman, Policy Advisor, Climate Initiatives

Lex Telischak, Electrical Engineer, Climate Initiatives

Iffie Jennings, Area Manager, Community Relations-Boulder Region & Mountain Communities

Susan Davis, Account Manager

Cheriese Marczyk, Builder Developer Representative

Duties: The Community Advisory Panel regularly reviews and discusses energy issues, including decarbonization of Boulder’s electricity supply and use energy efficiency and demand-side management programs for customers, and overall local and state-wide initiatives that are related to the goals of the partnership

Meeting Frequency: Quarterly

Members: The city and Xcel appointed 18 members of the community that represent residents, businesses and CU Boulder.

Key Elements of the Partnership

The agreement seeks to expand access to clean, renewable power and build a safer, more reliable and resilient energy system. Together, we aim to:

  • Achieve 100% Carbon-Free Electricity

This means that all electricity would come from clean, fossil fuel-free energy sources, every hour of every day.

  • Reduce Emissions

Fossil fuel use to heat space and water in our buildings and power our vehicles are major sources of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. The partnership will help replace fossil-fuel-powered systems with clean, efficient and affordable electric solutions.

  • Increase Local Generation of Renewable Electricity

Half of Boulder’s clean energy would be produced close to where it’s used by 2050. The city is aiming for 100 megawatts (MW) of local generation by 2030 and 175 MW by 2050.

Local generation creates jobs and provides predictable electricity prices. It can also improve the resilience of our energy system during extreme weather when paired with battery storage. Learn more about our local generation goals and track our progress on our data dashboard.

  • Ensure a Safe, Resilient and Reliable Energy System

This includes replacing aging or inadequate infrastructure to make sure our energy system can withstand extreme weather events brought on by climate change.

  • Create Innovative and Equitable Solutions for a Diverse Community

Identify projects, programs and initiatives that ensure all community members have equitable access to affordable energy. The partnership will also create opportunities for underrepresented populations to participate in, be heard and experience benefits.

Xcel Energy Partnership Vision and Goals

The city and Xcel Energy will work collaboratively to:

  • Make progress towards specific energy and greenhouse gas emissions targets.
  • Address the gap between Xcel Energy's commitment to 80% carbon emission reduction by 2030 and the city's 2030 goal of 100% renewable electricity.
  • Create processes that engage the Boulder community.
  • Develop innovative projects that show the value of going electric.
  • Access grant funding to support partnership projects on regulatory changes that make meeting our energy goals easier.
  • Share data.

We also work with other partners like University of Colorado Boulder, federal labs and businesses to develop, test and promote new energy technologies.

Read the full Partnership Overview for a closer look at where the partnership is headed.

The partnership agreement includes provisions that set forth carbon emission reduction targets for Xcel Energy between now and 2030:

Graph depicting emissions reduction targets for Xcel Energy .

The Xcel Energy-City of Boulder partnership agreement includes provisions that set forth carbon emission reduction targets for Xcel Energy between now and 2030.

Year Emissions
2005 Baseline: 33.9 million tons emitted
2019 42% reduction: 19.5 million tons emitted (actual)
2022 52% reduction: 16.6 million tons emitted (target)
2024 61% reduction: 13.6 million tons emitted (target)
2027 67% reduction: 11.5 million toms emitted (target)
2030 80% reduction: 6.9 million tons emitted (requirement)

If Xcel does not achieve these targets, the city will have the opportunity to opt out of the franchise in 2023, 2025 and 2028.

The agreement includes a $33 million dollars investment in powerline undergrounding by Xcel Energy, with approximately half of the investment being made in the first five years of the franchise. Learn more about the city’s undergrounding work.

Under the potential agreement, the city and Xcel would work together to achieve Boulder’s renewable energy target: 100% by 2030. The city and Xcel would work together to update Boulder’s electric grid, share data and develop 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:

  • Elimination or substantial increase of the state’s 120% limitation on on-site generation
  • Development of a new tariff to facilitate the rapid conversion of bus fleets to electric busses
  • Removal of barriers to large amounts of local distributed generation
  • Facilitation of microgrids in specific projects at Chautauqua and Alpine Balsam
  • Data-sharing


Most of the time, cities have franchise agreements with public utilities operating within their boundaries. Past franchise agreements between the city and Xcel Energy provided the company the right to use the city’s streets, public places and easements to serve Boulder customers. Franchise agreements dictate the long-term relationship between the utility and the city and can provide a platform for unique partnership opportunities that may help the city’s progress toward its energy goals.

Between 2010 and 2020, the city and Xcel operated without a franchise agreement while the city explored the creation of a city-run electric utility.

The new franchise agreement, approved by voters in 2020, allows the city to exit at certain times, listed in this table:

YearReason to exit franchise agreement
2023Failure to meet emissions standard
2025Failure to meet emissions standard
2026Any reason
2028Failure to meet emissions standard
2031Any reason
2036Any reason
2041End of franchise

The agreement maintains the city’s ability to municipalize in the future if the community opts-out of the franchise. The potential agreement includes several items that preserve much of the city’s municipalization work to-date and remove potential future barriers to municipalization, including:

  • A $200 million cap on any condemnation award, including acquisition cost, real property interests, going concern, damages to the remainder and purchase of two existing substations
  • Agreement on issues related to substations and commitments from Xcel that the company will pay the cost of any updates to the existing substation interconnection studies and design drawings
  • Agreement that the PUC orders from Sept. 14, 2017 and Oct. 28 stand and apply to separation of the system if the city pursues municipalization in the future. The list of assets from the Oct. 28 decision may be used by the city.

You can help us meet our goals

By going electric, you help build a cleaner, more efficient energy system.

Tip: Electric heat pumps for space and water heating and electric cooking equipment are great ways to reduce emissions and improve your indoor air quality. Check out available rebates here and keep a look out for new incentives by subscribing to our newsletter. Our partners at EnergySmart are available to offer advising services at no charge to you. Explore their website for more information.

Work at or own a business in Boulder? Check out city-supported energy efficiency rebates, incentives and resources for businesses.