Powering Strong Communities

Boulder, Xcel Energy reach potential settlement that could result in new franchise agreement

The City of Boulder and investor-owned Xcel Energy announced on July 28 they have reached a potential settlement that, if approved by the City Council and Boulder voters, would 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 City of Boulder said in a news release.

Boulder would be allowed to resume municipalization efforts

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, the city noted.

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 began in April

Negotiations between the city and Xcel Energy began in April, with the parties meeting dozens of times over the three months of talks.

The Boulder City Council received a briefing on the agreements at a 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 the City Council votes to place the proposed franchise agreement on the city’s 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.