Boulder Dumps Franchise With Xcel Energy

The City Wants To Move Toward Renewable Energy

It's a battle between the environment and money. And dozens of Boulder residents came out to the city municipal building to show their support for what they call the values Boulder has for the environment.

"We know when you are gone, we are going to be cleaning up a big mess," said a child who addressed the city council Tuesday. "And that job will be much easier if you will help us now. So don't resign the contract with Xcel and go greener, faster."

Tuesday night, the Boulder city council voted 6-2 to not put the franchise agreement on the ballot in November. As a result the city must now come up with about $4 million a year.

That is approximately the amount of money the city makes annually as a result of their agreement with Xcel, said Sarah Huntley, spokesperson for the city.

"It's time to take action and we need to demand more clean energy now," said 11 year-old Haden Davis, of Earth Guardian.

The issue for Boulder residents may be about clean energy, renewable energy, but it also comes down to money. Since the city council voted down renewing the agreement with Xcel, the city must find a way to make up the approximate $4 million a year loss.

Tuesday, the city voted to move discussion of an "occupational tax" to a second reading during the council meeting on Aug. 17. Huntley said the tax would be charged to Xcel, which most likely would charge its customers for the tax. Huntley said it's a replacement tax, so Boulder customers would pay the same amount they pay now with the franchise agreement if this tax passes. It's a way for the city to still keep the $4.1 million it received from Xcel with the franchise agreement in place.

If the city decides to move forward with the "occupational tax", Boulder residents would vote on the issue in the November election. If residents do not approve the tax, the city would be forced to cut about $4 million from its budget.

Even though the city voted down the franchise agreement with Xcel, Xcel would still provide power to the city. Xcel spokesman Tom Henley said they are required to provide that service and will continue to do so. He said Boulder residents and all Xcel customers will not notice a difference.

If Boulder later decides to form its own municipal utility, Xcel would cease providing power to the city.