Community Engagement

Pueblo Chamber of Commerce votes to support community-owned utility

The Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors on April 8 voted to support a community owned utility in Pueblo, Colo., rather than an investor-owned utility.

Residents in Pueblo are scheduled to vote on May 5 on a measure that would allow the city to leave investor-owned Black Hills Energy and form a public power utility.

The Pueblo City Council approved the special municipal election during a Feb. 10 meeting. If approved, the city would move to buy or condemn Black Hills Energy’s electric facilities in the city and Pueblo County. The approved ballot question authorizes Pueblo’s Board of Water Works to form a water and power utility.

Pueblo Chamber Board notes significant savings expected over 20-year period

The Pueblo Chamber’s Board of Directors said that while immediate reduction in rates are not likely, over a 20-year period significant savings will be received by ratepayers. No taxpayer funds would be used to acquire or operate the system, the board noted.

It was also noted that a Municipal Electric Utility Feasibility Study (Phase 2) showed that estimated costs to acquire all distribution system statewide and separation of stranded costs, other costs for legal, start-up and working capital would be $868 million.   

At current rates, the Phase 2 study estimates that the level of net revenues provides enough capacity to cover revenue bonds of $900 million to $1 billion. This indicates that a transition to a community owned electric works is financially feasible with significant rate savings over a 20-year period, the chamber of commerce noted. 

“Additionally, local control would allow quick decisions in economic development cases rather than the cumbersome process of the Public Utilities Commission,” it said.