Xcel asks Boulder District Court to dismiss condemnation case

BOULDER – Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE: XEL) asked a Boulder County District Court judge Tuesday to dismiss a case filed by the city of Boulder to acquire the company’s assets through eminent domain.

Boulder filed a petition in the district court to condemn portions of the electric system owned by Xcel through eminent domain July 17. Xcel’s filing made Tuesday argues that the city should have obtained approval from the state Public Utilities Commission before seeking condemn the company’s assets in district court.

Boulder wants to create its own utility to generate more electricity from renewable energy, while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions that cause climate change. Xcel wants to keep its assets, contending it can help Boulder reach its clean-energy goals faster and more economically than the city can do by itself.

In its court filing, Xcel said that the district court lacks jurisdiction to consider and protect the rights of residents outside Boulder, public utilities laws or the safety and reliability of the statewide electric system.

“That duty and expertise belongs to the commission,” reads the filing.

The city’s attorneys are evaluating Xcel’s filing, Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said in an email.

“However, the city disagrees with the company’s perspective on the (commission’s) jurisdiction,” Huntley said.

The Public Utilities Commission asserted Oct. 29 that it had ruling authority with regard to Xcel’s assets that the city of Boulder has sought to acquire to form its own utility. On Dec. 11, the commission rejected an appeal by Boulder, saying it must approve of Boulder’s plan to separate from Xcel before the city can file to condemn Xcel’s assets.  

Xcel contends that the Public Utilities Commission must first evaluate the city’s plans to ensure it will not harm Xcel customers outside Boulder’s boundaries as well as the safety and reliability of the statewide electric system.

“We were surprised to see Boulder take such an aggressive, unlawful step by filing the condemnation lawsuit,” Xcel said in a statement Tuesday.  

Boulder’s response to Xcel’s filing to dismiss the condemnation case is due in three weeks.


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