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Updated August 15, 2014
Protecting Our Customers
For years, the City of Boulder has been exploring if it is going to attempt to take over Xcel Energy’s electric business in and around Boulder. We still believe that Boulder can best meet its energy goals by partnering with our company. As Boulder presses forward, Xcel Energy continues to take steps in this process that protect all of its customers. Several actions have been taken by both Xcel Energy and the City of Boulder in recent months, which are outlined below.
Boulder’s Plan to Include County Customers and Facilities
The City of Boulder’s feasibility plans assume that it can include over 7,000 Boulder County customers in its proposed utility, but only the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) can determine if Boulder may serve these customers. The City’s plans also include the acquisition of facilities that impact non-Boulder customers. Last fall, the PUC confirmed several points in a ruling regarding these issues. First, the PUC held that it is the entity that must decide who may provide service to County customers - not Boulder or a condemnation court. Second, to the extent Boulder’s plans include acquiring Xcel Energy facilities that impact non-Boulder customers, regardless of the facility locations, the PUC held that it must review such plans before a condemnation case is commenced by the City. This is because the PUC needs to determine how Boulder’s plans can impact reliability and safety as it relates to the integrated, state-wide electric system.
Several rounds of legal proceedings have occurred in the case the City brought forward to challenge the PUC ruling. The PUC, Office of Consumer Counsel and Xcel Energy have all filed legal briefs outlining why the PUC ruling is consistent with 90 years of Colorado Supreme Court precedent.
Instead of complying with state law and the PUC ruling, in January the City elected to sue the PUC to challenge its order and has now moved forward with a condemnation lawsuit against Xcel Energy even though the PUC ruling is still the law.
Lawsuit Against Boulder’s Formation of an Electric Utility
On May 6, Boulder’s City Council voted to create an electric utility. Before Boulder took this step, Xcel Energy voiced concern that Boulder’s creation of the utility was premature. This is because it fails to meet voter-imposed requirements in the City’s charter, particularly those related to cost and reliability. The City cannot demonstrate whether charter requirements related to reliability have been met until the PUC has approved Boulder’s plans (see discussion above on “Boulder’s Plan to Include County Customers and Facilities”).
We attempted to avoid legal action by offering to enter into an agreement with Boulder that would have allowed all of us to address this issue of the utility formation in the future. This would have avoided the costs and time associated with litigation. As Boulder did not agree, Xcel Energy took legal action on June 3 to preserve its legal rights.
On June 26, the City filed a motion to dismiss our challenge regarding the City’s formation of an electric utility, to which Xcel Energy has responded. We are still confident that the action we filed is legally appropriate and that the City’s decision to move forward is premature. We are now awaiting a decision from the Judge as to whether our case should be dismissed or allowed to continue.
Boulder Files for Condemnation
On July 17, Boulder filed its condemnation case with the Boulder District Court. The filing of the condemnation case at this time is contrary to state law because Boulder has not followed the PUC ruling (discussed above in “Boulder’s Plan to Include County Customers and Facilities”). On August 12, Xcel Energy filed a motion to dismiss the condemnation case.
In the condemnation case and other documents filed by Boulder in the various pending legal matters, Boulder has indicated that at this time it may not seek to acquire the County customers, but rather only the facilities that serve them. In either scenario, Boulder’s plans impact County customers and the company. Boulder seems to have made this change to try to avoid the PUC ruling, but that decision is still law.
It is surprising that given Colorado law, the CPUC decision, and other pending legal matters that Boulder has decided to take this step. (See “Boulder’s Plan to Include County Customers and Facilities” above.)
More information on these events and the supporting information is available at www. YourBoulderEnergy.com (link to the right) or contact Craig Eicher.
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