Boulder votes to take over electric utility
Yesterday Boulder, Colo., voted to buy its electric utility from Xcel Energy and have the city run it. It's a firm move toward electricity re-regulation -- the kind that has been discussed casually in Montgomery County. It'll be a risky move by Boulder if it follows through. The city will have to sell bonds to buy the utility assets from Xcel, and higher taxes are involved.
The Daily Camera newspaper describes the vote as an effort by the city to reduce its CO2 emissions:
The drive to form a municipal utility grew out of the city's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In 2006, Boulder voters approved a carbon tax to fund programs that would help Boulder meet the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for a 7 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels.
But, as Bloomberg notes, the vote also comes after cost-overruns to install smart meters in Boulder. Writing before the votes were counted, Bloomberg said a yes vote for "municipalization" would "effectively" end the smart-grid project, but it sounds like the meters are already installed. Bloomberg:
The referendum comes after Xcel Energy spent more than $44.8 million, exceeding its original budget estimate of $15 million, according to regulatory filings. The initiative is one of the nation's first "smart grid" pilot projects, designed to help customers reduce power use and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Xcel raised $950,000 for its campaign to keep the Boulder utility private, compared with $88,500 spent by backers of the referendum, according to city records.