Boulder and Xcel Energy Dispute Territory

The city’s push for an independent municipal utility has reached the Colorado Supreme Court

The state’s highest court last week agreed to weigh in on a standoff between energy provider Xcel Energy and the city of Boulder. The Colorado Supreme Court granted certiorari in a lawsuit brought by Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel subsidiary, against Boulder. The suit alleges that the city does not have jurisdiction to create a municipal electric utility.

“Our chief concern with Boulder’s formation of its electric utility is that it was premature,” Xcel wrote in a statement. “Boulder’s charter contains certain voter imposed conditions to the utility formation, including those related to costs and reliability. Further details are needed regarding these conditions, including important Colorado Public Utilities Commission approvals, as required under the law, which relate to safety, reliability and costs. Only after attempting to enter into a tolling agreement with the City on the issue did we bring this action to preserve our rights.”

Boulder’s push to divorce from Xcel goes back to November 2011, when Boulder city voters approved an amendment to the Boulder Home Rule Charter, creating a new light and pow-er utility upon the city council’s demonstration that the utility would not charge rates exceeding those charged by Xcel at the time of acquisition and that the proposed utility would be able to acquire the electrical distribution system in Boulder.

The first ordinance stipulated that an independent third party was required to verify that the city meet these conditions and others included in the amendment. The second ordinance clarified the establishment of the utility.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the August 28, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online.