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Boulder files petition to acquire Xcel facilities to create a municipal utility

From the July 22, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published July 22, 2014

The City of Boulder, Colorado, filed a condemnation petition in Boulder District Court on July 17 seeking to acquire portions of the electric system owned by Xcel Energy that are necessary to create a municipal electric utility. "The move is a significant step toward achieving the Boulder community’s goal of accessing an energy supply that is cleaner, reliable and competitively priced," the city said. 

"While we had hoped to reach an agreement with Xcel Energy that would make litigation unnecessary, the city is fully prepared to move forward in pursuit of our community’s goal," said Heather Bailey, executive director of Energy Strategy and Electric Utility Development for Boulder. "Owning and operating our own utility will not only allow us to be better environmental stewards and energy consumers but will also help us make our local economy even stronger. Our utility would create jobs, foster innovation and emerging technology and support the types of businesses that make Boulder unique."

The city said "an unprecedented analysis ... shows that over time, a local electric utility could aggressively increase renewable sources of energy, like wind and solar, and significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions while offering rates and reliability comparable to Xcel Energy." Boulder voters have supported this work effort twice, in 2011 and 2013.

The city said it has been conducting good faith negotiations with Xcel since January. "Although negotiations have failed at this time, there are opportunities, if Xcel becomes willing, to discuss settlement during the condemnation process," Boulder said.

The petition filed by Boulder seeks to acquire all or portions of nine substations that serve Boulder and the 115-kV transmission loop serving the city, as well as related facilities, equipment and lines. Because of the way Xcel Energy configured the system, the same electric feeder lines that serve inside the city also serve some out-of-city customers. "While the city needs to acquire an intact system from Xcel Energy in order to ensure high-quality and reliable service for our customers, we do not necessarily have to become the electric provider for out-of-city customers," Bailey said.

Boulder does not plan to serve the out-of-city customers, but has preserved the right to modify its condemnation petition in the future, if that becomes necessary. 

For more information about the city’s "Energy Future" initiative and municipalization, visit


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