“I think you can make the argument we could always have done it better,” Weaver says. We were having conversations, we were speaking with Xcel, but we never shared anything of substance until a few weeks before we had the hearing about whether to put it on the ballot. 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. Boulder Mayor Pro Tem Bob Yates first met with Xcel Colorado President Alice Jackson on July 19, 2019. 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. (303) 245-2254 Join host Emma Athena as she analyzes how COVID-19 has changed the conversation around homelessness solutions in this six-part series from Boulder Weekly and KGNU. After the appellate decision is issued, all further court actions will be discontinued. It certainly creates an impression,” she says. 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. According to emails BW obtained, there were some back-and-forth conversations between Jackson and City Attorney Carr about the timeline for citizen-initiated petitions in relation to when Xcel files its climate registry report. 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 it does leave the door open for that.”. Weaver says this level of input was unique, because this partnership is unique, given that Xcel is a monopoly and Boulder partners with it to provide electricity whether in franchise agreement or not. “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.”. The city will dismiss the current FERC proceeding. The idea, Carr wrote, is that the Council did not specifically refer negotiations to a committee, and Yates and Weaver were acting in an “informal advisory role without a delegation.” (This email was provided to BW by Pomerance separate from the CORA request.). Xcel Energy Inc. and local officials in Boulder, Colo., on Tuesday reached a tentative deal that could end the city’s decade-long municipalization effort. The court granted Xcel Energy’s motion to dismiss the city's condemnation filing. “There’s a big gap between 80% carbon reduction and 100% renewable,” Glustrom says. 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. “And frankly, the state doesn’t give cities an alternative. The “discussions” outlined in the notes were about distribution systems planning, Yates says. BW will continue investigating this story as events warrant. “It’s an odd thing for the state to be involved in. I hope so, but I also think we shouldn’t confuse that with them necessarily doing that out of the goodness of their heart. The pandemic and subsequent financial limitations presented an opportune time for a compromise to be struck between the City and Xcel, even if none of the parties involved explicitly framed it that way. And we have not a clue how we’re going to fill that gap. Jackson says the franchise agreement itself is relatively “cookie-cutter,” with the exception of the addition of the opt-out provisions at five, 10 and 15 years, as well as other times if the company fails to meet its emission reduction targets. “I think that’s going to be a pretty big factor in deciding things. The early timeline is important in order to determine if anyone involved violated the City Charter or the Colorado Open Meetings Act. Voters will decide whether the City of Boulder enters into a new 20-year franchise with Public Service Company of Colorado (Xcel Energy). Find Xcel Energy Boulder jobs on Glassdoor. “Usually businesses talk to their customers. “If Sam Weaver says it’s OK and Will Toor says it’s OK, then what’s the problem? It’s actually not a mystery. All emails between Carr, Yates, Weaver and Alice Jackson or any combination thereof from July 1, 2019 to present. 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. Wikimedia Commons . And I was bullish on it.”, The state also weighed in ahead of City Council’s vote to put the franchise agreement on the ballot via a familiar Boulderite: Will Toor. That’s simply going to be a decision by the City of Boulder’s voters as to whether or not they think this has gone well,” Wallach says. Toor’s involvement also added clout to the 2C campaign, she says. The reason, she says, it wasn’t possible for Xcel to make this information public so voters could judge it for themselves is because “when we make those announcements, there are real impacts.’’ Revealing the information to just one community could impact filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), accounting standards or shareholders, she says, since Xcel is a publicly traded company, as well as other communities the company serves. It included City staff members within the Climate Initiatives department, Steve Catanach and Jonathan Koehn, along with other Xcel employees. Voters approved a new franchise agreement with Xcel Energy in November 2020. By passing the franchise agreement, voters also approved a new partnership between the city and Xcel Energy. Timing:  Seated in the first quarter of 2021. So, what happens if the City claims Xcel hasn’t met its targets and Xcel says it has? “The reason this was hard for me was, if you’re going to be a policymaker there has to be something besides all or nothing that’s good or not. … 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.’”. “If we got to a place where CCE was actually enabled through legislation, then what it does is it gives communities who are served by [investor-owned utilities] the opportunity to contract directly with renewable energy sources,” Hooten says. Meeting Frequency:  In 2021 and 2022, the Executive Team will meet four times per year. To learn more about Xcel Energy, please visit www.xcelenergy.com. Projects in Boulder will not cost customers outside of Boulder without state regulatory approval. The real question is the next question, which is what do you do with somebody’s excess energy?”, He continues: “During the campaign for the franchise that part of it was never discussed. All emails between Bob Yates, Sam Weaver, and Tom Carr or any combination thereof that mention a) Xcel b) franchise or c) muni or municipalization from July 1, 2019 to present (Nov. 13, 2020). “The City is in financial difficulty and it becomes increasingly hard to say, we’re going to subsidize from the general fund $4 to $5 million a year of legal fees (for the muni effort) when our revenues are declining and we’re laying off people.”. “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. But I have just seen enough of Xcel that I don’t trust them,” Glustrom says. “It was a very short meeting,” he says. You’ve got to shut down your coal plants. Xcel energy is a Forbes Top 500 Company, and provides services to over 3 million people. Xcel will resume payment of a franchise fee to Boulder’s general fund (more on that below). “My lesson from 2017 and ’18 was that we didn’t do that early enough. I think the answer’s always yes,” he says. “I’ve seen that in the [corporate] world where you have a pretty big thing that’s been announced. Under the potential agreement, the city and Xcel would work together to achieve Boulder’s renewable energy target: 100% by 2030. Xcel had a hand in crafting how the City of Boulder was communicating the negotiations to its citizens. Wallach, who was not involved in any of the email back-and-forth about language, says he isn’t concerned by how the two parties (Xcel and the City of Boulder) worked together on the language. Instead, the city has since explored municipalization of the electric utility a… “I don’t know how exactly we would have done it better except to have citizens at the table during the negotiations with Xcel. “After our staff review and my independent look at their scenarios, I became convinced that they had plausible ways of getting there.”. “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. When asked recently, Wallach says he was pleased with Jackson’s response to his concerns. With voters approving the agreement in November, work on this effort has already begun, and per the agreement, Xcel will spend $15 million to complete it within the first five years. In the end, Boulder voters passed the franchise agreement with Xcel, including the energy partnership agreement with the list of possible renewable and innovative projects in a close vote. Our Bold Energy Plan for Colorado 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. It’s kind of hard for me to prove a negative when someone says it wasn’t transparent. 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. Polis and his administration were supportive of a yes vote on the franchise.”, CLARITY ON LOBBYING and DISTRIBUTION PLANNING. Many who have reviewed it see only potential and prioritized projects, but no guarantees. “I think it was pretty public and pretty transparent. 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. The City of Boulder and Xcel Energy last week announced that they have begun discussions that may lead to new pathways to reach the city’s energy future goals as an alternative to a city-run, community owned electric utility. Here’s what we’ve learned so far. “If we say you didn’t meet your two-year target and they say, well, but we did, and here’s why, they should have that opportunity to contest that.”, “Obviously there are the opt-outs in the franchise. Available at over 1,000 locations across Boulder County, and of course right here online. 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. To both, Yates said no. Energy-conscious city's bid to municipalize electric utility is being watched nationally. 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. 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. Of the meeting’s content, Jackson says, “I asked a lot of questions to try and get perspective. And Xcel said, we’ll try to help you find funding. The City and Xcel announced to the community that negotiations had commenced via a press release on May 12. “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. Specifically, Boulder and Xcel will work together to achieve 100% renewables by 2030 and eliminate electricity-sector emissions. Still, some citizens would have liked to have been more involved. Xcel Energy was not pleased with the proposed split. City officials regularly remarked, internally, that retaining the right to lobby for certain issues was critical. The 120% rule is silly [but] why was it ever put in place in the first place? The Project Oversight team will appoint teams for each project. Get hired. But undergrounding ties into another aspect of the agreement: broadband, which Yates made sure to include. Yates and Weaver both say this discussion was “non-substantive,” and that it didn’t include talk of a potential settlement agreement. Xcel Energy, the writing is on the wall. “We had a window of opportunity to have a conversation without ardently being in the litigation room,” Jackson says, given that PUC had already finalized what assets were on the condemnation list, district court proceedings were in a holding pattern, and key steps hadn’t yet been taken with federal regulators. 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. Electric customers in Boulder are served by Xcel Energy. It’s not a matter of we’re going to pass things by each other.”, The language in the agreement is loose. “And so we apologized, we learned from it and we’re moving forward.”. The city is committed to transparency and will conduct a full public process to evaluate any potential settlement. 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. That was the biggest question Weaver had before and during the early negotiations with Xcel. The goal of the city's partnership is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with gas and electricity consumption, electrify, and boost resilience and equity in Boulder. Several people with whom we spoke believe if Xcel brings something to court, they’re going to win. Find 32 listings related to Xcel Energy in Boulder on YP.com. It says both Xcel and the City are committed to “establishing open and effective channels of communication regarding policy positions relating to electricity generation, transmission, or distribution in Colorado taken at the local, state, and federal levels,” and that “to the extent practical, both Parties agree to provide notice to the other of those public meetings where the specific policy positions relating to electricity generation, transmission, or distribution in Colorado before the Colorado General Assembly will be discussed.”, Yates doesn’t see an issue with this agreement, since the City is pretty clear on its energy goals. 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. Thank you, again, to those who donated to help make this investigation possible. 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. 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. The landscape in which the two entities entered negotiations was also different this year. Most of that advertisement around those programs are things that we, as a legislature have required them to do,” Fenberg says. Timing:  Regular meetings will begin January 2021. David Takahashi - September 10, 2020. 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. If they want to dispute the science and the measurement, I think that’s not inappropriate,” Wallach says. … And I thought this was a pretty good deal. The city in January sent a notice of intent to Xcel, a necessary first step in the negotiations, and followed in April with an initial offer of $68.5 million. In 2010, Boulder City Council decided not to enter into a new franchise agreement with Xcel Energy. I mean, it’s better than it was, but to me it’s not a very robust achievement,” Glustrom says. Because it was under an NDA, it was redacted in our open records request and we don’t know exactly what’s in there — nor does anyone who voted for 2C — but Yates and Weaver say they saw enough to proceed. The former Boulder mayor, who’s now at the Colorado Energy Office (CEO), offered support in the form of a formal letter in conjunction with John Putnam at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on Aug. 4. 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. All emails between Bob Yates, Sam Weaver and Tom Carr and The MAPR Agency or any combination thereof from January 1, 2020 until present. Staff provided a work plan presentation to City Council on Dec. 1. The latter requires meetings of three or more members of a “local public body” to be public. City Council was notified of the discussions on April 22, via a confidential memo from Carr. 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. The partnership agreement seeks to make significant progress on Boulder’s clean energy and climate goals. There are also some back-and-forth emails making sure the discussions stay under wraps until the public announcement. Absolutely not. After 2022, the team will meet at least twice per year. Email conversations indicate Xcel asked the City of Boulder if it would be willing to lobby for issues, like Community Choice Energy (CCE), in concert with the company. Energy-conscious city's bid to municipalize electric utility is being watched nationally. The partnership agreement includes provisions that set forth carbon emission reduction targets for Xcel Energy between now and 2030: If Xcel does not achieve these targets, the city will have the opportunity to opt out of the franchise in 2023, 2025 and 2028. Members: The city and Xcel will appoint six-to-15 members of the community that represent residents, businesses and CU Boulder. 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.”. Reviews (612) 330-5500 Website. “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. “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. 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. And the carbon associated with those customers is not included in the accounting for either the starting point or the ending point,” she says. We also got a better sense of the motivations of City and Xcel officials at various points of the negotiation process. In the end, a majority of Council approved it, including Weaver and Wallach, who were on the fence about it. What is that in this case, what is good enough that the voters should be allowed to decide for themselves?”. News briefs: Fracking blocked on 53 oil and gas leases in Colorado, and more, Tribal leaders engage Colorado Senator Bennet to ensure universal access to clean water on reservations, The inside story of how Boulder and Xcel reached a settlement, 114 studies on flipped classrooms show small payoff for big effort, Letters 1/14: Coal plants, elections and more, The for-profit barbarity of mercenary Erik Prince. The city’s offer comes after an Oct. 28 Colorado Public Utilities Commission ruling that approved transfer of Xcel Energy assets outside substations to the city. 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. The city of Boulder, Colorado, on Nov. 20 made a $94 million "final offer" for the Xcel Energy assets necessary to create a municipal utility, in hopes of avoiding a condemnation proceeding. 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.”. Past issue archives: starting with most recent, back to late 2009. The next meeting between the parties didn’t occur until April 20, according to both a review of the emails and comments from Yates, Weaver and Jackson. 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. “The 2C campaign made a strong effort to create the impression that Gov. And that’s the whole thing: a commitment to try is no commitment at all.”. But the one thing we can be sure of is, on this path, it will be very expensive. “Just the press of walking away, because they’re not hitting their emissions targets or at year five walking away because they’re not a good partner on projects,” Weaver says, “that’s going to be worse than not having done this in the first place.”. And when Doyle Albee, head of Boulder-based MAPR Agency, told Yates in an email he supports the efforts to get the franchise agreement on the ballot and is willing to help, Yates responded by encouraging Albee to join a “strategic advisory committee” for the campaign. 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. 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. The Charter, meanwhile, requires that “all meetings of the council or committees thereof” shall be public. Xcel Energy crews replace a pole damaged by rushing floodwaters in a very precarious position on the Boulder Creek. That is still being finalized before the company is required to present its energy resource plan to state regulators at the PUC in March 2021. The starting rate of pay for this position is $43.86 hourly. “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. “What we ultimately came down to is the language that … says, look, if we know there’s a bill or a legislation that we’re going to take a position on that impacts the other party … and we’re going to take positions on it, what we’ve committed to is to use the established processes to try and notify each other of this is coming up, this is going on. A good example of such complementing efforts is the Xcel Energy Boulder County government tandem of rebates and tax credits that rewards efforts of Colorado residents and business owners to improve energy use and also recognize the important choice made by those who prefer renewable energy sources over fossil fuel use. So BW filed a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request for communications between City Council members, City staff and Xcel from the middle of July 2019 through the election. The partnership agreement seeks to make significant progress on Boulder’s clean energy and climate goals. “What I can tell you is they have plausible scenarios for making the targets, as far as I’m concerned,” Weaver says. However, it has yet to change its plans for the Pawnee Generation Station and Comanche 3 coal-fired plants, both of which are slated to run for decades to come. Although Weaver did vote to put the agreement on the ballot, he did not take a side for or against ballot measure 2C. Yates and Council member Mark Wallach, for their part, agree the process was transparent. That’s their business model.”, For Boulder, eliminating or altering the 120% rule is key in future projects and distribution as the City looks to become more resilient to wildfire and other natural disasters by establishing infrastructure like microgrids. We believe Boulder can best meet its energy goals by partnering with us. Leslie Glustrom, a long-time muni advocate and PUC watchdog, adds that having both Weaver and Toor, both long seen as progressive energy leaders in Boulder, in support of the franchise could have made it seem more appealing. Undergrounding helps improve system reliability. The big goal is to get everybody to 100% renewables,” Yates says. And that’s not a very big promise. As Jennings was stepping into her new role as Xcel Energy Inc.’s (NYSE: XEL) Boulder area manager, local residents were voting on how they wanted to … For many years, the city had a franchise agreement with Xcel—this agreement granted Xcel the right to use the streets and rights-of-way in Boulder as part of providing utility services. “I cannot overstate my distress to learn that Xcel is already taking steps to participate in this election,” Wallach writes. And I always regretted that and the community took away our executive sessions at the next election as a result of that.”. That was something they just were not going to allow. 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. 25 Xcel Energy jobs in Boulder, CO, including salaries, reviews, and other job information posted anonymously by Xcel Energy employees in Boulder. I think that would be a normal procedure.”. According to The Wall Street Journal, Xcel energy spent over $1 million trying to defeat the Boulder ballot measures. “To me it met the threshold of good enough to take to the voters,” Weaver says. The city and Xcel would work together to update Boulder’s electric grid, share data and develop innovative demonstration projects under the guidance of a community board. Experienced professionals on real projects and issues is looking to hire one or more members of discussions... 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