“The fact that there was discussion between the parties as to how it’s to be phrased and how it’s to be announced does not bother me at all. Reviews (612) 330-5500 Website. This is lined out in the energy partnership agreement, a document that has a list of projects Boulder and Xcel have agreed to consider working on to meet the City’s renewable energy goals, as part of the settlement and franchise agreement. “So there’s a big gap between where we want to be and where Xcel wants to be. Weaver calls it “one of the more difficult decisions in my entire life,” and that he lost friends over it. Several people with whom we spoke believe if Xcel brings something to court, they’re going to win. Unfortunately, with no projects guaranteed in the agreement, it’s impossible to know. “Could it have had more transparency? “If we ever come back to [the muni], it’ll actually be easier than what we’re facing as we sat here today.”. Weaver also points to another guarantee in the agreement: Xcel will pay to underground its power lines in Boulder, a costly endeavor that was put on hold during the ongoing municipalization litigation but would make the City’s electric grid less susceptible to outages and extreme weather. They’re doing it and probably will do it in a manner that guarantees that they benefit from those projects, whether it’s a return on their investment or something that solidifies their control over the City of Boulder and them being our monopoly utility for the future.”. If we were able to find a pathway to get you more comfortable with the decentralization conversation, we’re obviously making dramatic moves on the decarbonization side and that’ll be taking place at the Public Utilities Commission, should we open the door to having a conversation on how do we do this together again?’” Jackson recalls. So, what happens if the City claims Xcel hasn’t met its targets and Xcel says it has? 2655 N 63rd St Boulder, CO 80301. “I met her in her office and it was very cordial.”, Jackson agrees, adding, “At that point in time, I know we had said, ‘You know, it’d probably be good to visit with a broader group just to continue to get to know [each other] and build relationships.’”, Yates then followed up with Jackson a few days later, looping in fellow Council member Sam Weaver and suggesting the three of them get together. Much of the judgment of this deal — from those involved in negotiations, from interested parties and from community members — will be delayed until critical parts of the agreement are executed. “I don’t know how exactly we would have done it better except to have citizens at the table during the negotiations with Xcel. When asked recently, Wallach says he was pleased with Jackson’s response to his concerns. Jackson says wholesale wasn’t a big piece in its carbon reduction calculations. “And that repeatability piece is an important focus, not only for us, but you’ve heard it from the leaders in the City as well, is that they want to provide an example for others that actually helps others do what it is that have been the goals of Boulder.”. Because Yates had requested that language, and because he previously worked for Level 3 Communications, from which members spun out to create Zayo Group, which recently was awarded a broadband contract in Boulder, and because Yates lists only “dividends” on his financial disclosure document, we asked if he would stand to benefit financially in any way from municipal broadband, or if he had stock in Zayo. Between 2010 and 2020, the city and Xcel have operated without a franchise agreement while the city explored the creation of a city-run electric utility. The landscape in which the two entities entered negotiations was also different this year. According to all three, Jackson asked Yates and Weaver to stay on the virtual call after this meeting, which is when she first explicitly mentioned the potential for a settlement agreement. Absolutely not. | More Info. Weaver says the point of this conversation was for City officials to learn about Xcel’s distribution planning and how Boulder could have a seat at the table in the process — a key provision in the eventual settlement agreement and a major reason why previous negotiations with Xcel had fallen apart. The two were introduced by Tim Wolf, a Boulderite and Xcel board member, whom Yates says is a friend of his wife’s. “It is that status that they have as a monopoly and that means, you know, on the bus or off the bus with them through a franchise or not, we operate differently in this messaging with them,” Weaver says. That was something they just were not going to allow. They want to be the one who provides energy to us. Jackson assumed her position at the energy company in May 2018. Boulder Mayor Pro Tem Bob Yates first met with Xcel Colorado President Alice Jackson on July 19, 2019. I think the answer’s always yes,” he says. A $200 million cap on any condemnation award, including acquisition cost, real property interests, going concern, damages to the remainder and purchase of two existing substations, Agreement on issues related to substations and commitments from Xcel that the company will pay the cost of any updates to the existing substation interconnection studies and design drawings. “There’s a big gap between 80% carbon reduction and 100% renewable,” Glustrom says. Instead, the city has since explored municipalization of the electric utility a… And Xcel said, we’ll try to help you find funding. After several rounds of back-and-forth scheduling emails, eventually the three did meet, on Jan. 9, 2020 — Yates and Jackson at a restaurant in Boulder, while Weaver, who was sick at the time, called in. It may be an urban legend, but supposedly Henry Ford shared, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” It was an acknowledgment of the power of the status quo, and it is playing out here as municipalization engages its latest obstacle. Perhaps the biggest selling point of the franchise agreement is that Boulder, somehow, is going to be able to be able to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030 due to shifting attitudes about microgrids and distribution system planning from Xcel. But both the City and Xcel have cheered the opportunity this agreement presents to use Boulder as a trial area for new technologies and projects that the company can take to other communities. After Boulder voters approved Ballot Issue 2C tin November 2020, which entered Boulder and Xcel Energy into a 20-year franchise agreement and paused the City’s pursuit of municipalization, several community members reached out to Boulder Weekly with concerns that the process wasn’t as transparent as it could’ve been. It was kind of abrupt, it was abrupt for me, certainly, and so I think everybody wanted to get it just right and make sure that they weren’t, you know, stepping on the other person’s toes or overstating things.”, He adds: “I don’t have an impression that Xcel was really driving the messaging around that; they were just cautious about a few points.”. The state really shouldn’t have been involved, given Xcel, per state law, is the only utility at the moment authorized to provide electricity to Boulder and holds a monopoly over Boulder’s electricity, says state Sen. Steve Fenberg, who helped launch the muni effort in Boulder 10 years ago. An internship at Xcel Energy will give you practical experience in the energy industry at a company that's After the appellate decision is issued, all further court actions will be discontinued. “That, to me means… they are going to try to get there in a way that is as profitable as possible because we actually do know how to get there. On June 9, Jackson also sent Yates and Weaver language from Xcel’s agreements with other cities, as the two parties began to develop the franchise agreement. Weaver says select members of City staff were notified the day that Jackson had proposed settlement discussions. The NDA prohibits the City of Boulder, however, from publicly sharing any confidential information from Xcel, including the company’s emission reduction planning, even through an open records request. After 2022, the team will meet at least twice per year. “So, will they do some interesting and cool and innovative projects with the City of Boulder? And again, it’d be good to know how much it’ll cost burden to implement the types of projects the City needs in order to get to 100% renewables by 2030, especially since the cost of continuing to pursue the muni was a major selling point of this franchise agreement. “What I can tell you is they have plausible scenarios for making the targets, as far as I’m concerned,” Weaver says. “It’s the whole kit and caboodle,” she says. But I have just seen enough of Xcel that I don’t trust them,” Glustrom says. Xcel Energy, Utilities - Gas & Electric. The list of assets from the Oct. 28 decision may be used by the city. The meeting was arranged at the request of Jackson, according to emails from City Attorney Tom Carr, with the discussion to be focused on distribution planning. Boulder voters have passed a measure that will enter the city into a new franchise agreement with Xcel Energy, according to unofficial results from the Boulder County Clerk’s Office. ballot measures).”. “To me it met the threshold of good enough to take to the voters,” Weaver says. “I’ve been in court five times with Xcel. Here’s what we’ve learned so far. Jackson says the City saw “possible permutations that could come out as the pathway forward” for Xcel to reach its 2030 carbon reduction requirements, but it wasn’t a step-by-step plan. Energy-conscious city's bid to municipalize electric utility is being watched nationally. Duties: Regularly review and discuss energy issues of shared, including decarbonization of Boulder’s electricity supply and use energy efficiency and demand-side management programs for customers, and overall local and state-wide initiatives that are related to the goals of the partnership. Weaver also says the City will be integrated into Xcel’s distribution planning process, which enables the City to see how their system functions in an energy-flow context — something to which the City hasn’t previously had access, and a major point of contention in the municipalization fight. If it does, the City can be recouped for its expenses. “I cannot overstate my distress to learn that Xcel is already taking steps to participate in this election,” Wallach writes. “I simply posed the question and I said, ‘OK, you’ve now heard how we approach distribution planning. The agreement allows Boulder to use Xcel’s infrastructure to attach fiber for municipal broadband, which has also been on hold during the muni fight. Since Colorado is a regulated state, customers have no choice in who provides them with power. “And we tied up a bunch of legal loose ends,” he says. Polis and his administration were supportive of a yes vote on the franchise.”, CLARITY ON LOBBYING and DISTRIBUTION PLANNING. None of the three could remember any talk of ballot issues, even though it’s in Yates’ notes from the meeting. Use our Inquire Boulder customer service tool to tell us what’s on your mind. “The big goal here is not to get Boulder to 100% renewables. Xcel Energy was not pleased with the proposed split. “I’ve had meetings with Xcel where they said they cannot meet their goals unless they are allowed to build large and expensive projects that rely on untested technologies. In a response to former Boulder City Council member Steve Pomerance, who raised the Charter issues, Carr wrote in an email “there is no precedent” to consider the meeting Yates and Weaver had with Jackson “to be meetings under the charter,” and thus, public. Still, given all of the City’s messaging before the election on this agreement about how much the City extracted out of Xcel, there still isn’t much that’s going to push the energy giant toward sustainability more than what the state is already requiring it to do. However, Wallach was concerned about an uptick in the politicking around the negotiations in August, on the part of Xcel. Projects in Boulder will not cost customers outside of Boulder without state regulatory approval. Electric customers in Boulder are served by Xcel Energy. Daily Camera Jun. The big goal is to get everybody to 100% renewables,” Yates says. There are also some back-and-forth emails making sure the discussions stay under wraps until the public announcement. “I would have to say, that is a silver lining here, that if we were going to wait until next year to vote on how much money we’re willing to pay for their infrastructure, and if that failed, that would have been the end of the muni,” she says. “If Sam Weaver says it’s OK and Will Toor says it’s OK, then what’s the problem? The city is committed to transparency and will conduct a full public process to evaluate any potential settlement. “The five-year, they really have no basis for contesting. Jared Polis’ major goals. Can planting trees make a city more equitable? “And so we apologized, we learned from it and we’re moving forward.”. Duties:  Responsible for oversight of the partnership agreement, including communication and collaboration between the city and Xcel to achieve the partnership's goals. Boulder, Colo. voters approve franchise agreement with Xcel Energy Boulder, Colorado, voters approved a new 20-year franchise agreement with Xcel Energy on Tuesday, solidifying a partnership aimed at helping the city achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. I think that would be a normal procedure.”. But according to Jackson, Xcel and Boulder will have to agree on both sides of the discussion — both amending the 120% cap and what can be done with the extra energy. Many who have reviewed it see only potential and prioritized projects, but no guarantees. And on June 27, Jackson sends changes to a PowerPoint slide to be presented at City Council. This resulted in the City building in an expanded timeline for an opt-out election, after it became clear there wouldn’t be enough time in a given year between when Xcel’s reports become public and when citizens would need to submit signatures for a ballot question. “I really don’t recall.”. To all this, Yates, who admittedly has never supported the municipalization effort, says: “It’s not unusual for us on Council, if there’s a question coming before Council, for us to reactively or proactively work with members of the community. … So it’s weird for the state to then be like, ‘I think you should sign this good deal with Xcel because we’re not allowing you to ever have any other deal.’”. The latter requires meetings of three or more members of a “local public body” to be public. On Monday, Jan. 4, the company announced its plans to retire both units of the Hayden Generating Station in northwest Colorado by 2028, ahead of schedule. It certainly creates an impression,” she says. According to emails obtained by BW, on May 8, Yates told Jackson that language of the agreement is coming so the company can review it ahead of the public announcement. The two agreed to a phone discussion, after which the email chain trails off. And when asking what those are, they talk about nuclear energy and they talk about carbon capture and sequestration and things like that,” Fenberg says. “As far as future legislation, we had a lot of conversations around, OK, let’s make sure we’re not undermining the partnership that we’re trying to build here,” Jackson explains. Jackson assumed her position at the energy company in May 2018. In August, Yates encouraged every Council member to speak with Jackson individually ahead of its vote on whether to send the agreement to voters or not. In an email, attaching the letter to City Council, Toor urged “the full council to support this agreement, and outlining the statewide climate and clean energy benefits we see from this agreement, and providing our commitment to support its implementation, including through intervention at the Public Utilities Commission.”, He followed up separately to Yates and Weaver, offering to speak at the public meeting on Aug. 20, to which Yates responded, “My opinion is that this would be helpful.”. With that, we still don’t know if Xcel plans to close coal-burning plants in its portfolio, which Fenberg says would be the fastest way of reducing emissions. … It was really getting their take on where things were [and] why the relationship was where it was at.” It was the first time, she says, she had even heard of Boulder’s goals of decarbonizing, decentralizing and democratizing its energy future, which became key factors in later negotiations. Boulder Mayor Pro Tem Bob Yates first met with Xcel Colorado President Alice Jackson on July 19, 2019. Let’s design and build amazing things online. As is often the case in Colorado, our CORA request came with a hefty price tag: $1,050 for the City’s time to locate and review the documents for sensitive material. The partnership agreement seeks to make significant progress on Boulder’s clean energy and climate goals. And if the agreement hadn’t been on the ballot this year, voters would have been definitively deciding the future of the muni in 2021. Unable to devote that kind of money alone, BW launched a GoFundMe online fundraiser and within three hours, the funds were raised by you, the community, to get the records. The city will dismiss the current FERC proceeding. Of the meeting’s content, Jackson says, “I asked a lot of questions to try and get perspective. According to The Wall Street Journal, Xcel energy spent over $1 million trying to defeat the Boulder ballot measures. Timing:  Seated in the first quarter of 2021. Jackson says she believes there was enough public outreach and conversation in the negotiation process this year, as the City held several listening sessions on the topic throughout the summer. Average salary for Xcel Energy Operations Manager in Boulder: $130,650. BOULDER — After a decade of lawsuits, appeals, negotiation starts and stops, Boulder Chamber leadership favors a deal that could put an end to Boulder’s attempt to form a municipal utility and establish a path for the city to partner with Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE: XEL) to achieve sustainability goals. And that’s the whole thing: a commitment to try is no commitment at all.”. Xcel Energy submitted its electric transportation plan after a 2019 law cleared the way for regulated utilities to invest in equipment and programs to boost the use of electric vehicles, one of Gov. In 2010, Boulder City Council decided not to enter into a new franchise agreement with Xcel Energy. City officials regularly remarked, internally, that retaining the right to lobby for certain issues was critical. 14--Boulder on Wednesday made a final offer of $82 million to Xcel Energy to acquire its assets in the city's bid to create its own municipal electric utility. Get hired. Duties:  Oversee distribution planning and innovative grid projects and provide community guidance to community programs. Past issue archives: starting with most recent, back to late 2009. It included City staff members within the Climate Initiatives department, Steve Catanach and Jonathan Koehn, along with other Xcel employees. The pending condemnation case will be dismissed. The Project Oversight team will appoint teams for each project. View the presentation slides and Watch the presentation recording. David Takahashi - September 10, 2020. “We have complete freedom to advocate on anything we want.”, The only thing the City and Xcel have already agreed to lobby together for is “abolishing or modifying,” according to Yates, the statewide 120% rooftop solar statute, which would allow people to add more than 120% solar capacity to their rooftops compared to their energy consumption for a year. “So that is a threat to [the industry] financially.”. Weaver was a part of the last round of discussions in 2017 and ’18, and says that experience helped inform discussions in 2020, particularly from a transparency standpoint. “It was a very short meeting,” he says. The City can opt out of the agreement in 2022, 2024 and 2028 if Xcel fails to meet its carbon reduction benchmarks, or every five years starting in 2026 for any reason whatsoever. “I do very much remember them trying to persuade us not to take certain positions and us pushing back very, very firmly saying, ‘No, we reserve the right to take all positions,’” he says. Nothing came of it until later in the year, however, when Yates again emailed Jackson, letting her know Weaver was about to be elected mayor and that, “Sam Weaver and I believe that it may be constructive if the three of us meet.”. From her perspective, as the relatively new president of the company, community engagement was a motivating factor, as was the lull in municipalization legal proceedings. Undergrounding helps improve system reliability. Boulder hasn’t been in franchise since January 2011, but because electricity is essential, Xcel still has to provide power. It’s not because it was some arbitrary number, it’s because Xcel wanted to limit their exposure and they don’t want people producing their own energy and then being able to share it. Yates writes that Jackson was “desirous of continuing dialogue, even if in parallel with litigation,” and that she expressed she had the authority to “commence discussions.” Topics at the meeting included community choice energy (CCE), local network distribution systems planning, and a mention of “time constraints (e.g. Under the potential agreement, the city and Xcel would work together to achieve Boulder’s renewable energy target: 100% by 2030. And that’s not a very big promise. Executive Leadership (Climate and city infrastructure), Executive leadership (Community Relations and Customer Accounts), Currently being assigned to appropriate city staff. “Some of the collaboration around network planning and grid modernization that Alice and Sam discussed at the Jan. 9 meeting sounded potentially expensive to me and so I may have been considering whether it would be necessary to ask the voters for funding for that,” Yates says. To learn more about Xcel Energy, please visit www.xcelenergy.com. An earlier version of a CCE study bill was tabled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but before that, on Jan. 23, Yates, on behalf of the City, testified in support of Hooten’s bill at the statehouse, a position neither he nor Weaver were willing to give up. The part of the agreement package that covers Boulder’s pursuit of local renewable energy projects in concert with Xcel wasn’t “copy and paste,” Jackson says, from other agreements with other cities, but it does share some “flavors.”. Meeting Frequency:  In 2021 and 2022, the Executive Team will meet four times per year. Weaver agrees there are no guarantees on a project-level — figuring out how to fund projects makes guaranteeing specific projects difficult — but there’s still a lot he thinks will keep Xcel engaged. I hope so, but I also think we shouldn’t confuse that with them necessarily doing that out of the goodness of their heart. In a Tuesday joint news release from the city and private power provider Xcel about public officials’ years-long interest in forming a municipal electric service, the company and Boulder … In the final agreement, Wallach worked in language that prevents Xcel from campaigning or financing campaigns should either City Council or Boulder citizens hold a vote to opt-out of the franchise agreement in five years. Future local, renewable projects will be reviewed jointly by Xcel and City of Boulder leadership teams, including Jackson, meaning the City will still have to get approval for local projects from Xcel, and from the PUC, which may not approve costly projects in Boulder if it forces Xcel to spread those costs to other communities. So it does leave the door open for that.”. According to the Charter, City Council is prohibited from meeting in executive session but had special permission from voters to meet privately regarding legal strategy in pursuit of municipalization. … And I thought this was a pretty good deal. Xcel Energy crews replace a pole damaged by rushing floodwaters in a very precarious position on the Boulder Creek. This was especially true when it comes to CCE, for which Boulder’s state Rep. Edie Hooten has been leading the statewide effort. Available at over 1,000 locations across Boulder County, and of course right here online. This included Xcel’s secrecy around distribution planning and grid modernization, as well as his skepticism of the company’s ability to reach its goal of 80% emissions reduction by 2030. But the one thing we can be sure of is, on this path, it will be very expensive. Get directions, reviews and information for Xcel Energy in Boulder, CO. Xcel Energy 2655 63rd St Boulder CO 80301. Menu & Reservations Make Reservations . To both, Yates said no. I thought the staff did a good job on it. The city and Xcel will share information and collaboratively innovate projects that Xcel can scale across their system. I’m 0 for five and the attorneys are like, ‘Wow. That’s kind of part of Business 101. We welcome the opportunity to help Boulder meet its energy and environmental objectives. By passing the franchise agreement, voters also approved a new partnership between the city and Xcel Energy. Both Yates and Weaver view the opt-out clauses built into the final agreement as the ultimate check on Xcel and impetus for the company to work with the City in good faith on local projects and to meet its carbon reduction goals. City Council was notified of the discussions on April 22, via a confidential memo from Carr. But in all of this, the silver lining, according to Hooten, is the fact that under this agreement the door is still open for municipalization. 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