News, Analysis and Opinion for the Informed Boulder Resident
Saturday March 25th 2017

Support the Blue Line

Subscribe to the Blue Line

That's what she said

city council transportation energy municipalization xcel housing urban planning april fools bicycles climate action election 2011 density boulder county affordable housing open space agriculture renewables CU local food election 2013 climate change development youth jefferson parkway pedestrian election 2015 preservation Rocky Flats BVSD immigration recreation mountain bikes GMOs transit urban design boards and commissions farming decarbonization plan boulder fracking fires wildlife colorado politics architecture smart regs downtown new era colorado plutonium journalism homeless transit village parking commuting radioactive waste ghgs natural gas rental height limits planning board historic preservation april fools 2015 walkability energy efficiency coal diversity Neighborhoods historic district North Boulder education students land use gardens population growth arts election 2010 bus growth solar water supply zoning University Hill taxes election 2012 water quality RTD library nutrition groundwater safety bike lane flood affairs of the heart electric utility flood plain sprawl april fools 2016 mayor organic election zero waste wetlands planning reserve county commissioners politics hazardous waste hogan-pancost street design obama electric vehicle ballot right-sizing transportation master plan longmont Mapleton solar panels PV comprehensive plan golden recycling climate smart loan diagonal plaza bears colorado legislature blue line flood mitigation congestion conservation easement food epa pesticide boulder junction road diet drought election 2016 community cycles inequality renewable energy flooding bus rapid transit PUC children campaign finance daily camera Newlands league of women voters ecocycle BVCP ken wilson automobile community sam weaver david miller climate change deniers wind power bob bellemare boulder creek bsec contamination kevin hotaling boulder crime suzanne jones tim plass john tayer arizona mlk EV green points technology Orchard Grove Whittier civil rights west tsa public spaces marijuana

PUC Overturns 40 Years of Precedent in Denying Intervenor Status to Leslie Glustrom


By

Leslie Glustrom (photo by Doug Grinbergs)

In ejecting Leslie Glustrom from participating as an intervenor in cases pending at the Public Utilities Commission, the Commission under its new Chair, Joshua Epel, has upended 40 years of precedent. The assertion of the PUC spokesperson in the Daily Camera article on September 18 that only those with a “substantial monetary interest…in the outcome of the docket” have a right to intervene is contrary to Colorado law.

In C.R.S. 40-6-109(1), standing to intervene in PUC dockets is granted to anyone who “will be interested in or affected by any order that may be made by the commission in such proceeding.” Note the absence of a requirement that the interest be a monetary interest, much less a “substantial” monetary interest.

The Supreme Court held that this section contemplates two types of intervenors, (a) those which the commission may permit to intervene, and (b) those who will be interested in or affected by any order that the commission may make. DeLue v. Pub. Utils. Comm’n, 169 Colo. 159, 454 P.2d 939, cert. denied, 396 U.S. 956, 90 S. Ct. 428, 24 L.Ed.2d 421 (1969). The PUC may decide that permissive intervention can be limited to those with a substantial monetary interest in the docket. However, they are flouting forty years of precedent in saying that a watchdog, as Leslie Glustrom has been, can be excluded from the proceedings even though she is interested in and will be affected by the orders of the Commission.

In another 1969 Colorado Supreme Court case, the Court held that in providing for “hearings”, the general assembly contemplated proceedings, judicial in character, with participation by all parties who might be interested in or affected by any order that may be made by the public utilities commission. Pub. Utils. Comm’n v. Northwest Water Corp., 168 Colo. 154, 451 P.2d 266 (1969).

Here are two important things that Leslie Glustrom has uncovered in her participation in PUC dockets over the last five years—things that likely would not have been discovered but for the fact that she was there, asking questions that no one else was:

  1. She uncovered through persistence, analysis and discovery the fact that Xcel was asking ratepayers to pay for $150,000-$200,000 worth of food, liquor and entertainment expenses as “Office Supplies.” This included dinners at two of Boulder’s finest restaurants: Frasca and the Flagstaff House. Just one of those bills for the Board of Directors dinner was over $15,000. Once uncovered, the request by Xcel to have ratepayers pick up the tab for these entertainment expenses was withdrawn.
  2. Ms. Glustrom has focused the attention of ratepayers, the public and PUC staff on the important impact of escalating coal prices in analyzing least cost alternatives. Xcel was paying $1.18 per MMBTU for coal in 2008. At that time, their PUC filings projected that coal costs would increase to $1.52 per MMBTU by 2035–a very slow and gradual increase. Actually, Xcel started to pay $1.52 in 2010–Xcel’s projection of coal cost increases was off, in other words, by a quarter century. Ms. Glustrom’s clarifying this truth—something that had been lost on other close observers of the PUC—has sharpened the thinking of everyone involved in integrated resource planning before the PUC. This would not have happened but for the participation of Leslie Glustrom in numerous dockets at the Commission.

In urban planning, more eyes on the street make it safer for everyone. In regulating Investor Owned Utilities, more eyes on the submissions of regulated utilities will provide environmental and economic benefits for all of the people and businesses who depend on our public institutions to regulate utilities with the public interest firmly in mind.

The decision to strip Leslie of her status as intervenor at the PUC is contrary to the public interest and the interest of ratepayers. This unfortunate decision must be reversed.

Rate this article: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (16 votes, average: 4.13 out of 5)
Loading...

Reader Feedback

2 Responses to “PUC Overturns 40 Years of Precedent in Denying Intervenor Status to Leslie Glustrom”

  1. Zane Selvans says:

    Other interesting pieces of discovery that Glustrom helped bring to light: the thirtyfold escalation in Xcel’s wind curtailment costs from 2007 ($120k) to nearly $4 million in 2010 (docket #11A-0418E), and their detailed capital investments retirement schedule, demonstrating their long term financial entanglements with coal (docket #10M-245E).

  2. Amy Guinan says:

    Thanks Boulder Blue Line for posting this article! It is important that the public stays included in decisions made at the “Public” Utilities Commission.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.