Boulder, Colorado Voters Approve Measure to Break From Xcel, Establish Municipal Utility

Emerson 12 via flickr/CC BY 1.0

It was election day here in Colorado yesterday, and the most-watched ballot issue in Boulder was whether voters would allow the city to establish a municipal electric utility—and permanently break away from Xcel. Turns out that voters did (narrowly) support the initiative, although fewer voters wanted to pay for it.

There were two measures on the ballot, one (2C) that would allow the creation of a municipal utility and one (2B) that would raise taxes to help pay for the costs that will arise as the city works to establish that utility.

Boulder's Daily Camera reports that according to the unofficial count as of about 1 a.m., 2C passed with 51.8 percent of the vote—a margin of 933 votes. And Issue 2B passed with 50.3 percent of the vote—a margin of 141 votes.

(The Denver Post is reporting that 2B lost, but Boulder County's own count agrees with the Camera.)

The Camera explains how the effort is rooted in the city's desire to replace coal with more renewable sources of energy:

The drive to form a municipal utility grew out of the city's efforts to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In 2006, Boulder voters approved a carbon tax to fund programs that would help Boulder meet the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for a 7 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels.

But despite the city's efforts creating and implementing its Climate Action Plan, Boulder is not expected to meet its Kyoto goal. The city's difficulty shaving carbon prompted some Boulder leaders and environmental activists to call for a change in where Boulder gets its electricity.

Now, Xcel gets about 60 percent of its electricity from coal, and local supporters of the city's carbon-cutting efforts would like to see Boulder form a municipal utility that could eventually source more of its electricity from renewable energy.

Xcel was strongly opposed to these measures.

Tags: Boulder | Clean Energy | Coal | Colorado | Energy | Renewable Energy