Boulder shifts timeline for mulling energy future

BOULDER — The timeline for presenting possible strategies for meeting the city of Boulder’s energy goals has shifted to provide more time to incorporate the findings of key consultants and stakeholder groups into recommendations the public and City Council will be asked to consider.

The city is in the process of determining if it should continue work that might result in the creation of a municipal electric utility. The city currently receives its electrical power from Xcel Energy Inc.

The original schedule called for the release of possible strategies at the end of January, followed by a council study session in February and council vote in March. Under the new timeline, strategies that are under consideration will be provide to council and made public on Thursday, Feb. 21. The council will hold a study session on Tuesday, Feb. 26, to hear from staff, ask any initial questions and raise issues they’d like to see addressed before they next meet to discuss the issue. The March vote and public hearing will be postponed until Tuesday, April 16.

The change in schedule will help ensure adequate vetting of the strategies internally, as well as an expanded period of time for meaningful community feedback.

“The people of Boulder and City Council have entrusted us to provide them with an accurate and thoroughly vetted report about the recommended ways Boulder can meet the community’s energy goals, and we are committed to making sure that information is of the highest quality possible,” said Heather Bailey, the city’s executive director of energy strategy and electric utility development. “We also want to be certain that our community has the opportunity to consider the proposals and help shape where we go next. This is an important decision for our whole community, and we’d like to encourage broad participation.”

Interested members of the public are encouraged to review the memo and materials that staff will be preparing for the Feb. 26 study session and then attend or watch the presentation and question session to be held that night by the council. The public can learn about the methodologies and reasoning behind possible staff-recommended strategies at the Feb. 26 meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. and will be televised on Channel 8 for Comcast cable customers in Boulder. It will also be streamed live and made available for download at a later date on www.BoulderChannel8.com.

The council will make no decision and take no formal action until it holds a public hearing on Tuesday, April 16. Until then, community members are welcome to provide feedback by emailing council members directly or by filling out the comment form at www.BoulderEnergyFuture.com.

In addition, the city is planning a focused outreach effort from Wednesday, March 6, through Friday, March 15. Plans and details are still being refined, but the idea is to provide a combination of ways that individuals and businesses can ask questions and share their perspectives about the possible strategies. The city is working with communications and marketing advisors to develop both in-person and online participation opportunities.

“We are expecting that there will be a great deal of interest in understanding the information we have been gathering,” Bailey said. “Our materials and the process we use to encourage feedback will be built around reaching those who are already familiar with the community’s goals and possible ways to achieve them and those who are engaging for the first time.”

More information and background materials about the city and community efforts to date are available at www.BoulderEnergyFuture.com.

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