Boulder council to consider utility ordinance next week

BOULDER – The Boulder city council at its Wednesday meeting will consider on first reading an ordinance that would create a municipal electric utility.

In addition to creating the utility in accordance with requirements of the city charter, the ordinance would establish city council as the governing body of the utility. The ordinance would also create a utility advisory board. Members would likely be appointed to the board after the utility has issued bonds and begins operating, with city council carrying out the responsibilities of the advisory board until that time.

If passed on first reading, the ordinance would go to a public hearing on second reading on May 6. If passed on second reading, it would go into effect after 30 days.

The ordinance is the next step in the city’s quest to create a municipal electric utility. Although the city has yet to acquire any of the Xcel Energy Inc. assets required to run such a utility, creating the entity now gives Boulder the power to issue bonds to finance the initiative should the city decide to follow through with operating its own utility.

The ordinance does not lock the city into acquiring Xcel assets or operating a utility. If the city halted its municipalization process, the ordinance could be repealed.

Passage of the ordinance seems a foregone conclusion. The city already in January sent Xcel a notice of its intent to acquire its assets in and around the city, a formal first step required by law to start the process of acquiring property by the power of eminent domain.

Xcel has been an unwilling seller of its assets, contending that it can help Boulder reach its goals of a cleaner energy mix faster and more economically than the city can do on its own.

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