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Boulder City Electricity Utility Creation (November 2011)

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A Boulder City Electricity Utility Creation measure was on the November 1, 2011 ballot in the city of Boulder which is in Boulder County.

This measure was approved

  • YES 13,784 (51.93%)Approveda
  • NO 12,757 (48.07%)[1]

This measure sought to allow the city to create a new light and power utility for the city. City Council members decided to not renew the electricity contract with the current provider, Xcel Energy and instead sought to create a new public utility to manage the system. This measure will create a new utility department in the government as well as an advisory board. This also will allow the city to purchase the distribution system from Xcel Energy.[2]

The city officially approved this measure for the ballot on August 16, after they had been shown that a new city utility would be able to charge less for electricity than Xcel had been charging before.[3]

Support for Utility creation

A committee had been formed in support of the utility creation, Citizens for Boulder's Clean Energy Future, and they planned to campaign to promote the utility in the city.[4] Proponents of the utility noted that the end costs will not be known until the county goes ahead with the project and that fears of it being more costly were over stated.[5] The business group Boulder Clean Energy Business Coalition had noted their support for this measure. Though supporters noted that they did have concerns, they felt that there was enough to go on at this point and it was in their best interest to pursue this issue now.[6]

The committee in favor of this measure had filed that they raised $51,000 in support of this measure and had spent just $33,000 in campaigning for the utility creation.[7]

The Clean Energy committee had filed complaints with the city clerk in regards to their pro 2B and 2C signs being stolen from various properties throughout the city. The clerk noted that signs being removed was common, usually it did not occur so early. Though the head of the committee noted that the signs did not cost much, the group did not have a large budget so constantly replacing signs would become costly.[8]

The Boulder Green Building Guild had given its support behind this measure, along with the accompanying measure, to create an independent utility. The group noted that allowing the city to have its own utility would make it that they could have the most informed decision and allow for greener energy options.[9]

Opposition to Utility creation

A committee had also been formed in opposition to the utility creation, Boulder Smart Energy Coalition, this group planned to campaign against this measure.[4] At a recent community meeting, those opposed to the utility noted that the costs of creating it was more than the county had estimated and that in the end it would cost residents more.[5] The Boulder Chamber as well as the group Boulder Tomorrow both had noted their opposition to this measure. The Chamber noted that while they were not opposed to the idea of creating a city utility company, the means by which this measure sought to attempt that raises many concerns. They also noted their concern about regulating the new utility and how other businesses would not have a say on the issue. The Boulder Tomorrow group also stated that they had similar concerns as the Chamber, but also noted that they felt that the City had better things to work on rather than utility creation.[6]

The energy company XCEL had spent 14 times more money than those in favor of the utility, in campaigning against this measure. XCEL had spent $197,000 in opposition to the measure since the middle of August. XCEL had also donated some of its money to the coalition which was formed in opposition to this measure. The Coalition had filed that it spent $270,000 in campaigning for the month of September, bringing the total spent $460,000 by both groups. XCEL had less time in campaigning, so they were using this as a way to catch up to the city.[7]

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