Mpls. Utility Push Fades But Another City May Replace Xcel

Mpls. Utility Push Fades But Another City May Replace Xcel

Boulder, Colorado’s City Council voted to approve an ordinance that authorizes the purchase of assets from Xcel Energy.

While it appears the push in Minneapolis to replace Xcel Energy with a city-owned utility has petered out, the City of Boulder, Colorado, has reportedly taken another step in the direction of so-called “municipalization.”

Minneapolis-based Xcel has been battling the municipalization effort in Boulder, where voters passed a 2011 ballot measure allowing the city to replace Xcel with a municipal electric utility, contingent upon whether such a utility could offer similar rates and service as Xcel.

This week, the city officially set itself on the path to creating a new electric utility, when its City Council voted six-to-three to approve an ordinance that authorizes the purchase of Xcel’s assets, according to a report by the Boulder Daily Camera. It marked the third and final vote on the acquisition ordinance and was also the final vote on an ordinance declaring that the case for a municipal utility meets the requirements built into the city charter, the Denver newspaper reported.

The vote doesn’t necessarily mean that Boulder will build its own utility; rather, it means that in a month, when the ordinance takes effect, the city will begin negotiating with Xcel to acquire the company’s assets—poles, wires, substations—that surround the city, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. If Xcel doesn’t want to sell, the city could move to condemn the assets.

Meanwhile, city and Xcel officials are reportedly discussing potential alternatives to municipalization that may include new products and services that Xcel would offer to provide clean energy.

In Minneapolis, similar talks appear to be making progress. Earlier this month, the Minneapolis City Council held a public hearing regarding the possibility of adding a municipalization measure to the November ballot. The majority of the crowd that attended the hearing, however, appeared to oppose the idea, according to a Star Tribune report.

Then, the local debate took a turn when letters were exchanged between Xcel and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak—opening a line of communication that showed the two parties have agreed to work together to meet the city’s energy goals. It now appears that the push to create a Minneapolis utility has fizzled out.