By Roy L Hales
As Boulder prepares to set up its own power distribution system, local Coloradans and The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) are making sure that other municipalities are aware they can choose to break free of Xcel energy’s monopoly. Coloradans can choose where they obtain their electricity.
“As electricity users, we should have a say in how we source our electricity,” said Jamie Sarche, a proponent of the campaign. “Municipalization is a way for us to expand our choices and prevent Xcel from entrenching its monopoly.”
A number of communities whose franchise agreement is about to expire have received letters stating:
As electricity users, Coloradans should have a say in where we want our energy to come from.
The bad news: Xcel Energy is trying to limit our choices and further entrench its monopoly.
The good news: The Colorado Constitution offers communities like yours the ability to take control of your electricity sources and break free from Xcel.
Your city or town has the option to operate its own local electric system. Local electric systems, also known as municipal electric systems, are owned and operated by and for the communities they serve. Locally elected or appointed citizens comprise the board of directors for municipal systems, and they make the decisions regarding the best interests of their cities and towns.
Interested in local control of electricity choices for your community?
The message above was taken from a website called “Coloradans For Electricity Choices” (http://cosolarvoices.com/municipalization/ ), where there is a sign-up form to receive further information.
Boulder is preparing to take over the city’s distribution in 2016.
The city took this step because it felt Xcel was going far enough in providing renewable energy and cutting GHG emissions. Though the utility obtains 14% of its electricity from wind turbines, the city plans to achieve 50% wind power.
“We continue to believe that we can help Boulder achieve its goals better, faster and cheaper by working together instead of Boulder attempting to take over our business,” a spokesperson for Xcel recently said.
There are two scenarios for the transition:
If necessary, the city is prepared to take over in a single day.
A consultant has suggested that it might be better to continue retaining Xcel for the first 18 months to two years of operation.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission is expected to play a pivotal role in ensuring that Xcel cooperates during the transition.
Meanwhile in California, the state legislature has just passed a bill which threatens the spread of the community choice movement.
(Image at top of page: Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO - Taken by Ken Kinder in December of 2002, CC By SA 3.0, en WIkipedia)