Boulder hires advisers for utility research

BOULDER – The city of Boulder is paying three companies a total of $230,000 to assist in the first phase of its ongoing efforts to consider the possible creation of a city-owned electric utility.

Public Financial Management Inc. will advise the city on financial matters related to municipalization, including cost modeling, rate projection and bonding scenarios, according to a press release issued Friday. The company is based in Philadelphia and most of the advisers working on the project are based in California and Washington, D.C.

Two engineering firms – Exponential Engineering Co. and Schneider Electric SA – will offer advice on separating Xcel Energy Inc.’s distribution system from the assets a city utility would need, as well as the engineering and technical steps the city would want to take to operate the utility. Exponential Engineering is based in Fort Collins, and Schneider Electric is based in France and has an office in Denver.

Schneider Electric will develop a “best practices” manual to help the city provide reliable energy within a variety of customer groups as a service rather than a commodity, the city said in a prepared statement.

“The focus of the utility we are considering is significantly different from those of most electric companies operating today, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the level of expertise we have assisting us,´ said Heather Bailey, the city’s executive director of energy strategy and electric utility development. “Any decision we make will be aided by valuable input from these professionals, as well as the dedicated and diverse community members who are volunteering their time to vet our assumptions and ensure that we are weighing all of the critical factors.”

The contracts signed with each of these companies provide for maximum budgets for the first phase of work as follows: PFM, $70,000; Exponential Engineering, $120,000; and Schneider Electric, $40,000.

Representatives from PFM and Exponential are planning to attend a city council study session on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The meeting is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1777 Broadway. The consultants will make brief presentations and answer questions from the city’s elected officials.

City staff plans to begin sharing strategy recommendations with the community and council in the first quarter of 2013. For more information about the Energy Future project, go online at www.boulderenergyfuture.com.


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