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Wednesday August 21st 2019

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A Response to Xcel’s Latest False Statements about Ballot Issues 2B & 2C


Boulder Smart Energy Coalition flier (back)

Expensive mailers funded by Xcel are now raining on Boulder as though money is no object—and money is no object to Xcel. We all need to stand in awe at the huge profit that Xcel takes out of Boulder. It is the fight to keep that profit that is causing them now to spend unlimited amounts of money to deceive you into voting No on 2B and 2C in order to keep Boulder in the warm embrace of their monopoly. How much is at stake? Tens of millions of dollars of annual profit. Xcel’s operation is one big cost plus contract: we have to pay their costs and provide them a return on their investment no matter how foolish it may be. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC)  makes sure of it.

And Xcel’s Colorado operating company has made some breathtaking mistakes. We pay for those, too. To give one example, they built the Ft. St. Vrain nuclear power plant at a cost of $200 million. It was a cutting edge flop that operated only 15% of the time after it was built. It was finally so expensive (and Xcel’s customers paid for all of it) that the nuke was shut down at a cost of another $125 million—paid for by ratepayers too.

The latest mailer funded by Xcel—the one with a supersized blank check made out to the “Boulder City Council” is an out and out lie, built on the Dick Cheney method of duping the public. It works like this: fabricate a claim, get the paper to print it, then cite the newspaper as the source of the claim! The mailer says “The Daily Camera has estimated the costs at $622 million!” That statement is false. The Camera didn’t estimate the cost; it simply reported the inflated price that Xcel made up.

The claim in the mailer that 2C gives the City Council “unlimited bonding authority” is another lie. The charter language that will be approved when you vote FOR 2B and 2C sharply limits the amount of bonds through an explicit formula. The city cannot issue bonds in any amount unless 1) the Muni can charge rates “that do not exceed those rates charged by Xcel Energy at the time of acquisition,” and 2) those rates will produce revenue sufficient to pay operating expenses and debt service on the bonds plus create a surplus “equal to 25% of the debt payments.” That surplus can be used to lower rates, invest in renewable energy, create an operating reserve or otherwise to run the business for the benefit of Boulder customers.

Xcel’s campaign is funneled through Xcel’s front group, misleadingly named the Boulder Smart Energy Coalition, with friendly faces that are said to be your neighbors just expressing a point of view. Well, the Chair of the group is a lawyer who is being paid from Xcel money; and the attractive smiling woman neighbor is not your neighbor at all; she lives part time in Berthoud, and most of the time in California where she votes.

Boulder Smart Energy Coalition flier (front)

The campaign is run by The Kenney Group, a highly paid political consulting firm in Denver. Every dollar spent for Xcel has the twin goals of misinformation and fear. They say there are “no guarantees” with a municipal utility as to rates, reliability or renewables. But staying with Xcel is full of risk to Boulder customers, and we have seen that recently. Rate stability? The PUC has approved three major rate increases for Xcel in the last four years. Reliability? Xcel had a power outage ten days ago that left 1600 downtown customers without power for more than seven hours. Renewables? The idea that Xcel is more committed to carbon reduction than its customers in Boulder is laughable—they just built an $800 million coal plant and they want Boulder customers to pay for it.

Don’t believe Xcel’s lies. YES on 2B and 2C enables the City of Boulder to finalize the numbers that it would have to pay if it bought the electric distribution system. Only if that amount is far less than Xcel claims—so that the purchase of it is a good long-term investment for the city’s people and businesses—will 2C and 2B authorize the issuance of bonds to form the utility. A no vote on 2B and 2C, however, will tie us to the Xcel monopoly for the foreseeable future—which is of course what they want.

Get real information about the choice Boulder is about to make at Vote YES on 2B and 2C. Create a legacy for future generations, just the way the Open Space sponsors created one for you.

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