The city has embarked on a significant undertaking that could change the future of electric service and energy management for its residents and businesses. As directed by council, staff, along with community stakeholders and consultants, has been analyzing the viability of various options to help the community achieve its Energy Future goals (www.BoulderEnergyFu
Based on current analyses, the answer to whether it is possible to municipalize is yes. Determining whether Boulder should municipalize is a much more challenging question, as it is based on a number of community values related to the economy and environment.
At the core of these analyses is a vision of “the utility of the future” that is bold and exciting. No matter what energy path the city chooses to take, it strives to be a leader in reducing the impact its electric use has on climate change and provide local energy services that meet the unique needs and community values of Boulder.
The modeling and analysis process to develop the potential options for moving forward was based on the principle that the Energy Future goals could be achieved to varying degrees through either of two broad paths:
Boulder residents and businesses could remain customers of Xcel Energy
Options for moving forward with the municipalization exploration project and Boulder's Energy Future include:
Option: Phase Out Power Sold by Xcel Energy
This is a risk-mitigation option that would result in the creation of a city-run electric utility but would involve a five-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with Xcel Energy. This PPA would be based on Xcel’s current wholesale energy mix, much of which is coal-generated. At the end of the phase-out period, the city utility would be free to enter into Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with other energy providers, including those that offer more renewable sources of electricity. The model used Xcel’s own projections for inputs such as fuel costs and load growth that were pulled from recent publicly available information such as PUC documents, annual reports and FERC filings.
Options: Lowest Cost and Low Cost, No Coal
These options attempt to balance the community’s desire to reduce emissions with concerns about costs. They set a goal of keeping generation costs as low as possible while also lowering GHG emissions. They seek to answer the question: Could the city exceed the Kyoto Protocol, the community’s original energy future goal, and Xcel’s state-mandated emissions goals (30% renewable energy by 2020), but do so more cost effectively and with a different mix of fuel sources? The Lowest Cost option was modeled for least cost with 25% coal as compared to Xcel's 50% coal. The Low Cost, No Coal option completely excludes coal from the fuel supply.
OPTIONS: Lowest GHGs and Lowest GHGs with Reduced Use
These options put the community goal of reducing our carbon footprint and reducing harmful emissions first. It explores the effect that a maximum-impact renewable energy portfolio and greatly increased investment could have on customer rates. These options are the most dramatic and fastest shift from the status quo. Unlike the Low Cost options, these options were modeled without any requirement that the lowest generation costs be achieved. Like the Low Cost, No Coal option, these were modeled with no coal in the portfolio. The Lowest GHG option was modeled with current energy efficiency and renewable energy investments and current community electricity trends. The Lowest GHGs, Reduced Use Option is a variation that reflects the impact increased local energy efficiency investment would likely have on reducing consumption.
So, what do you think? Do any of these stand out as better or worse? Is there another option the city should explore?