Boulder Daily Camera – December 10, 2016
by Alex Burness
That 2030 goal, like the others just adopted, was billed by city leaders as ambitious but doable, but the achievement of a completely renewable electric supply would seem to be one over which the city may not have much control.
To the City Council’s chagrin, Xcel Energy remains Boulder’s electric provider, and the company’s Colorado portfolio is only 24-percent renewable. So, as of today, Boulder’s electric supply is also 24-percent renewable.
If Boulder is successful in its bid to leave Xcel and form a municipal electric utility, the city could reach the mark much sooner than 2030. With the autonomy associated with a local utility, Boulder might, in theory, sign enough contracts for renewable energy sources to completely meet their goal within a couple of years, as communities like Aspen and Georgetown, Texas, already have.
But the degree to which the city’s success with this new target hinges upon whether it gets regulators’ permission to shake free from Xcel may not be as significant as it seems.
“There are paths to doing that, even without owning your own utility,” said John Farrell, a national expert on energy independence with the Institute for Local Self Reliance. “As long as you can make it lucrative for an investor-owned utility, they’ll typically be willing to talk to you about options.”