Public Utilities Commission provides path forward for Boulder’s municipalization plan

DENVER — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission has approved a partial list of electric distribution assets Boulder is seeking to acquire from Xcel Energy, giving the city a path forward to creating a municipal electric utility.

The PUC made the approvals on Aug. 30 during oral deliberations. The PUC approved, with three conditions, a list of distribution facilities outside of substations that Boulder would need to operate its own utility. Boulder could use that list in a future condemnation proceeding, according to a statement from the PUC. The condemnation proceeding would set the value that Boulder would have to pay for the assets. The PUC said it denied Boulder’s request to authorize the inclusion of facilities inside of substations, saying it was premature.

A written decision from the PUC is expected in mid-September.

The final approval to transfer the assets has conditions:

  • An agreement between Boulder and Xcel providing permanent rights for Xcel to place and access facilities in Boulder it needs to continue to serve its customers must be filed.
  • A revised list of assets that is accurate and complete must be filed.
  • An agreement addressing payment from Boulder to Xcel for costs incurred by Xcel during separation must be filed.

The PUC requested those filings be made within 90 days.

The PUC declined parts of Boulder’s proposed separation plan, stating the requests were either premature, outside PUC authority or not in the public interest. The PUC rejected a proposal that Xcel be required to finance and construct the proposed separation work and declined to require co-location of facilities at substations or joint use of electric poles.

The PUC also denied IBM’s request to be excluded from the municipal utility’s service territory, saying that it was premature and there is insufficient evidence at this time to determine if Boulder is unwilling or unable to serve IBM’s needs. But the PUC did leave the door open for IBM to raise the issue again at a later date.

After oral deliberations, the City of Boulder released a statement saying it was reviewing the comments made and is awaiting the written order, but after preliminary review saw the clear path forward from the Commission to proceed with municipalization. The city added that it anticipated the conditional approval of acquiring the distribution system outside the substations, and it should provide a firm basis to work from.

“City staff is already at work on preparing the Network Integration Transmission Service filing that the Commissioners required prior to transfer of the substations,” the statement said. “The city is looking forward to working cooperatively with Xcel as directed by the Commission.  The city attorney will be requesting time at the beginning of the next council meeting to describe the deliberations and answer questions from council members.”