|Previous||1 of 2||Next|
small (250x250 max)
medium (500x500 max)
large ( > 500x500)
AUGUST 2012 - VOL. 28 NO. 8 (Continued on page 2.) A growing number of cities and counties dedicated to energy efficiency are deciding that local sustainability initiatives can’t coexist with for-profit utilities. by Dylan Scott, May 2012 When it comes to environmentally friendly cities, there’s no place much greener or more granola than Boulder, Colorado. The city of 97,000 on the edge of the Rocky Mountains has long been a leader in things like recycling programs and open-space preservation. It’s home to the University of Colorado, a nationally renowned leader in sustainability research, and in 2002, the Boulder City Council officially adopted the Kyoto Protocol. By the city’s own count, Boulder has shown up on nearly a dozen “greenest city” lists in the past decade. Last year, officials committed to building 40 electric vehicle charging stations around town. Boulder even uses grazing goats as weed control on some municipal properties. So it’s no big surprise that Boulder wants its energy sources to be green, too. But that’s lately forced the city to ask some fundamental questions: Can local sustainability initiatives coexist with for-profit utilities that are operating out of financial self-interest? Or is there an inevitable impasse between green-government goals and utility companies that remain committed to their bottom line? Simply put, if cities want to go green, must they go it alone? Boulder recently answered that last question with a resounding yes. After six years of deliberation, Boulder is taking steps toward “municipalization,” breaking away from Xcel Energy, its utilities provider, and assuming full control of its own electricity system. It’s a risky plan filled with challenges, but advocates insist it’s a necessary move if Boulder wants to dictate the terms of its shift to greater energy efficiency. ‘Green’ municipalities cut ties with utilities “Municipalization is one of the paths that allow us to achieve our long-term objectives,” says Jonathan Koehn, the city’s sustainability officer. “We want to be able to have more choices about how we get our electricity. It gives the community a greater say about its long-term energy needs.” Boulder isn’t alone in the push for greater autonomy from utility providers. A growing number of cities and counties are exploring new aggregation pacts that would allow them to pool together to buy energy from alternative sources. And Huntington Beach, California, for example, recently tried to install more efficient LED streetlights, only to face higher rates from its utility. The city responded by taking more control of streetlight installation and maintenance. Whether they’re providing more options or, like Boulder, completely decoupling from their energy providers, more places are confronting what they say is an inherent conflict between reduced energy consumption and private utility companies dependent on selling as much energy as they can. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy is one of the largest energy companies in the country. In 2000, Xcel purchased New Century Energies, whose predecessor had provided Boulder’s electricity for more than 80 years. The company’s latest 20-year franchise agreement with Boulder was set to expire in 2010. With that expiration date on the horizon, the city in 2005 began exploring alternative ways to purchase its power. When Xcel added Boulder to its smart-grid demonstration project in 2008, the idea was put on hold. But in 2010, as contract negotiations for a new franchise agreement stalled, the city once again started considering its options, including municipalization. In many respects, Xcel should have been a good partner for a city looking to green its energy consumption. Xcel was already one of the greenest energy companies in the U.S. - just two months ago, one independent analysis ranked Xcel among the nation’s top three most sustainable utility companies, based on the use of renewable sources like wind, solar and hydropower. Once negotiations started heating up with Boulder, Xcel offered to build the city a wind farm and pledged that 90 percent of Boulder’s energy would come from renewable sources by 2020. (Currently, about 10 to 15 percent of the city’s power comes from renewables.) If city officials would drop their municipalization plan, Xcel promised to make Boulder the “most green city worldwide” by the end of the decade. But Boulder officials weren’t interested. “I can’t tell you what happened,” says Jerome Davis, Xcel’s regional vice president for Colorado. “Your guess is as good as mine. There was a faction in Boulder, and I think all they ever wanted was municipalization.” Part of the city’s reasoning was fiscal. City projections showed that Xcel rates would increase by 30 percent over the next decade. Municipalization, according to an initial cost analysis, should save money. The average utility rate would fall by 10 percent for commercial customers and 7 percent for residential and industrial customers over the next decade. Based on that cost model, developed by an energy consulting firm for the city, Boulder could save more than $110 million over the next 10 years. Combined with the perceived environmental benefits of being able to source their own energy, city officials were sold. “We want to have an independent voice for our fuel sources,” says Councilwoman Lisa Morzel, who supported the move toward municipalization. “What we need is a democratized, decarbonized energy future.” Boulder placed two questions on the November 2011 ballot: The first asked permission to break from Xcel and create a publicly owned electric utility, as long as the rates wouldn’t exceed Xcel’s at the time of the takeover.
|Okla State Agency||Municipal Power Authority, Oklahoma (OMPA)|
|Okla Agency Code||
|Title||OMPA transmission, 08/2012 v.28 no.8|
Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority.
|Purpose||'Green' municipalities cut ties with utilities by Dylan Scott A growing number of cities and counties dedicated to energy efficiency are deciding that local sustainability initiatives can't coexist with for-profit utilities|
|For all issues click||M2700.6 T772|
|Digital Format||PDF, Adobe Reader required|
|ODL electronic copy||Filed with documents.ok.gov submissions system|
|Rights and Permissions||This Oklahoma state government publication is provided for educational purposes under U.S. copyright law. Other usage requires permission of copyright holders.|