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Howdy, again, #Boulder. It's city council night Part Deux as elected officials consider whether to place on the ballot an historic settlement with Xcel to pause municipalization and resume a franchise agreement.
You can read about that here, although apparently there have been some last-minute changes. You'll have to follow along to find out what those are.…
Which brings me to the second item for consideration: Should Boulder ask voters to keep paying the UOT, even if there's no muni? It would help fund projects to get Boulder to 100% renewable energy by 2030 (Xcel has only promised 80%)
If Planning Board is more your thing (they're talking NoBo library) follow along with @CHThiem. She's not a journalist, but she does a pretty good live tweet.
For some reason there's not a list of public speakers on the city website, but I'm told it's under 100 ppl.

I'd still expect a long night.
I feel like this would be a good opportunity to tweet some muni history, for those of you who have not lived in Boulder the entire 10 years this has been A Thing. (Longer if you really want to get technical about it)
First, a voting history.
2010: Voters passed 2B (to replace 3% yearly franchise fee customers pay to Xcel and Xcel pays to Boulder, with Utility Occupation tax, through 2015. Approximately $4 million per year) 68.4% to 36.6% (Turnout: 35,580)
2011: Voters passed 2B (raising UOT by $1.9M/year to pay for muni exploration, extending it to 2017) 50.4% to 49.6% (Turnout: 26,494)

Voters passed 2C (authority to form utility, condemn Xcel’s assets once certain conditions are met) 51.9% to 48.1% (Turnout: 26,541)
2013: Issue 2E (limited acquisition spending to $214M) passed 66.5% to 33.5% (Turnout: 29,319)

2015: Issue 2O (extending UOT through 2022) 71.4% to 28.6% (Turnout: 26,824)

2017: Issue 2L (extending 2011 UOT through 2022) 51.7% to 48.3% (Turnout: 30,6
Secondly, a timeline of key decisions and actions.

2010: Voters OK repurposing Xcle's franchise fee with Utility Occupation Tax, to explore options; franchise with Xcel expires at the end of the year
2011: Voters give Boulder the authority to form a utility and condemn Xcel’s assets, if certain conditions were met — that it can acquire the system and match Xcel’s rates at the time of acquisition and keep reliable service, that rates will cover cost of the muni + debt + 25%
... and to increase UOT funding to pay for effort

2012: Council OK’d using general fund money for muni
2013: PUC rules it will decide what Boulder can and can’t acquire, plus that Boulder will have to pay to replace/rebuild facilities/infrastructure Xcel needs to provide service to customers once systems are separated; voters limit debt related to acquisition spending to $214M
2014: Boulder forms utility on paper in the city charter (May) sparking a lawsuit from Xcel that won’t be resolved until 2019; city files for condemnation in court
2015: Court rules that Boulder will have to go through PUC process before filing for condemnation (January) PUC rules that Boulder can’t condemn infrastructure serving customers outside city limits and that Xcel doesn’t have to share them; dismisses part of application...
... but allowed for discovery process so Boulder could learn more about Xcel’s system (November) Voters also extend UOT (November)

2016: Spending passes $10M (March) Boulder resubmits application with PUC (September) and PUC rules it complete (November)
2017: Council declines 6-3 to put a settlement with Xcel on the ballot so voters can weigh in (April) PUC ruling that Boulder, Xcel have to meet certain conditions before approval is granted to proceed with condemnation (September) Voters extend UOT (November)
2018: City, Xcel file final list of agreements with PUC that is later contested (October)

2019: Spending passes $20M (March) City offers $68.5M to Xcel for system (April) City makes $82M offer and files for condemnation (June) PUC approves separation of assets ....
...outside of substations, closing out state process (October) $94M offer (November)

2020: Councilman Bob Yates, Mayor Sam Weaver inform public that Xcel and city are in negotiations for off-ramp; council votes to continue settlement talks (May)
That leads us to today, where council will vote to put that settlement on the ballot (or not).

This will all be in my Muni 101 piece, coming soon. I'm gonna stop hyping it because I'm in that stage where I'm afraid it's crap.
Nagle is absent tonight. She had surgery this week.
Here is the staff presentation:…
Carr: One of the natural questions is how does this compare to the rejected settlement in 2017? (Council in-famously refused to put it to voters)
Here's a chart:
I wasn't really around for that, so I can't say much. I also don't know that it matters. Let's just weigh what we have in front of us, eh? This is confusing enough as-is.
Carr pointing out that GHG reduction and renewable energy are two Dif things. Which is a good point to make bc Boulder's 2030 goals are 100% renewable energy, while Xcel's are 80% GHG reduction by 2030 and 100% carbon-free energy by 2050
Carr going over recent changes. Xcel won't spend any $$ in this election, the 2022 or 2024 opt-out votes (if Boulder takes them)

And Boulder agrees to dismiss its pending appeal of a condemnation filing
The other big change is that Boulder will get more time to decide whether or not it wants to opt out of a franchise: 16 months vs. 30 days
However, I'm confused a bit about that, bc the presentation doesn't match what my notes said (or what I thought they said) so I'll have to consult the agreement itself to clarify.
Oh, also, Boulder's broadband fiber (being built out now for citywide internet connection) will be allowed on Xcel's poles. The previous agreement only allowed for sharing of underground trenches.
Reminder: (Assuming voters OK a franchise) Boulder will have the ability to vote to end the franchise at will in 2026, 2031 and 2036 AND in 2023, 2025 and 2028 if Xcel doesn't meet its GHG reduction metrics by the end of the previous year.
Jonathan Koehn is going to talk about methane, which some community members opposed to the settlement has raised as an issue.
They say Xcel doesn't track methane leaks very well as part of their emissions.
"All emissions, including fugitive methane" will be included in the emissions reduction targets, Koehn says. "We do intend to track Xcel's methane emissions."
Koehn: The company will be required to report on that, and their reporting methods are subject to audits.
That starts next year, per new state laws. (Not related to Boulder or the muni)
Back to opt-outs: A 2/3 majority of council (6 members) can choose to restart municpalization and end the franchise
OR council putting a ballot measure on (which voters would have to approve)
OR citizens doing their own ballot measure (again, voters have to OK that)
So basically council can do it themselves or voters can do it
Steve Catanach, head of climate initiatives, going over how Xcel and Boulder will work together on some pilot projects. I've written about it so you should probably just read that.…
These projects (listed in the story) need to be things that "wouldn't have happened anyway," Catanach says, without the Xcil-Boulder partnership.
Boulder might kick in some cash for those (that's why we're considering the UOT repurposing/extension) but Xcel might, too. And they'll seek outside funding, too.
Anything that Boulder pays for itself, if Xcel does that project/program elsewhere within 10 years, the company will pay Boulder back for its investment.
This settlement also will result in Xcel and Boulder lobbying the state to change some things; most notably, allowing properties to produce more renewables than they currently can. And to pursue a new tax to transition buses to electric.
Boulder's already doing that second one. But it's expensive.…
(I wrote that)
Catanach going over some of the projects Xcel and Boulder might pursue under this deal. See slide 20 of 36 (or my story):…
Muni work hasn't stopped while negotiations are ongoing. Catanach: We received 10 bids for energy supply a week ago; 2 were "full-requirement offers" meaning they could provide the city 100% renewable energy.
5 that were partial-supply offers
1 offer for battery energy storage system
"Prices were very comparable to what we received in our 2018 request for indicative pricing," Catanach says.

Those are the numbers Boulder uses in its financial forecast to see if the muni will be feasible for not.
Of course, the content of the current bids and that 2018 RFIP are not made public. So I haven't seen 'em.
"We have eliminated any need to borrow from the general fund" to keep the muni going, Catanach says, but that will move a go/no-go vote from 2021 to 2022, a scenario that is "all stars aligned" where "everything goes perfectly" ...
"and we don't have any additional legal challenges or any additional expenses," Catanach says.
I'm not sure, but it sounds like even a 2022 go/no-go vote is not guaranteed.
Which is I guess(?) not all that surprising since it was pushed from 2020 to 2021 and now 2022. But we're getting pretty close to having all the work done; the big factor, of course, is how long the condemnation case lasts in court.
Bc we won't know how much $$ Xcel's system will cost to buy without that court case. (And a federal ruling on substations)
The settlement caps acquisition spending at $200M, including going concern. That could be back on the table without a settlement (though Boulder argues it won't owe any; Xcel says it could be ~$300M)
OK, now we're getting to the part about the UOT (Utility Occupation Tax) Per my history, the first part of this was passed to replace the franchise fee Xcel pays into Boulder's general fund. The second part was to pay for exploring the muni.
$27,588,066 has been spent exploring municipalization so far
Both UOT parts will expire in 2022 (or if voters OK the Xcel settlement).

Council going to consider asking voters to repurpose the exploration part AND/OR to repurpose and extend it to 2030.
Repurpose it for other renewable projects. It would bring in ~$2M/year.

If not extended, it would provide $2.1M through 2022 for those projects.
It wouldn't have to be for that, though. Some other potential uses:
Repay General Fund (for $$ muni borrowed)
Utility Bill Payment Support.
Electrification of buildings and transportation.
Projects to enhance community-based resilience.
Research and Technology Pilot Projects
Xcel's Alice Jackson has a presentation. It's really more of a brochure.…
Jackson: "We have found ways to incorporate a variety of different activities .... on how to achieve all of" Boulder's values and goals regarding municipalization.

"I really do believe together we can achieve way more."
Jackson: "I don't want to sound like a commercial, but there's so much more in this agreement that wasn't talked about tonight."
"For the past 10 years, much of our interaction has been in litigation," Jackson says. I'm excited for Boulder residents and Xcel to "get to know one another yet again."
Xcel is responsive to criticism, Jackson says. For instance, the company reached out to residents to talk about the settlement. That's not explicitly prohibited in the agreement, but residents felt it "violated the spirit" of the agreement, she says. So they stopped.
And apologized. And Xcel won't participate in elections/campaigns related to the settlement or municipalization for the next 5 years, Jackson says.
Thanks for educating me about this mistake, Jackson says to this unnamed group of critics.
Wallach q: Can you give up more detail about the financing proposals you received?
(Boulder asked for financing bids when it sent out the RFP for power supply bids)
Matt Lehrman: We're still looking at those. Does that answer your q?
Wallach: Not really. Is there anything we received that will "change the game a little bit" and take us down a different path.
Wallach: I don't want to pursue a settlement "if there's something out there that is so dramatically approved from what we'll be entering into."
Catanach kind of taking that but I don't understand anything he's saying.
The bids "certainly offer financing, but one of the questions we have to answer is how do we pay that back? If we're not successful in moving municipalization to completion but we've committed to paying an entity for financing, how do we pay that entity?" Catanach says
Wallach: What are the chances that we'll have a 2022 vote, from a litigation standpoint?
Carr: "There are severable variables."
Carr: FERC (federal regulators) if they rule for us, all stars are aligned. If they rule against us or delay for some reason, that creates delay.

We also have the condemnation case that need to be decided.
Carr: "I'm an optimist; I always believe we're going to win."
But, Carr admits, "there are challenges" on the legal front that may impact the 2022 timeline.
Wallach: Our agreement bars Xcel from interfering in elections. But what about its parent company? Or board of directors? Or subsidiaries?
(Xcel is how I refer to the company, but it's actually not called that in Colorado. It's Public Service Company of Colorado.)
Carr: We can't interfere with an individual's First Amendment right to participate, so any officer or employee, etc. — who are not parties to this agreement, only the company is — we can't restrict. But the company can't give them the $$ to contribute in elections, for instance.
Wallach: "I don't want to have a conversation down the line" as to how they are allowed to participate in elections/campaigns and how they are not. "I don't want their money involved in this election."
Young to Jackson: "Why should we trust you, aside from you said so on your slide?"

"Why does Xcel care enough to have participated in this settlement? And how will your shareholders benefit from this settlement?"
Jackson: "I fully realize trust is something you earn." This settlement is to place "an avenue" so that trust can be built.

The first element of trust is "we came to the table."
Jackson: This settlement helps Boulder achieve its goals.

"Why do we care? There's a lot of Dif answers I could put out for this one."
Jackson: "We've spent the past 10 years arguing .... We didn't accomplish as much as we could have" in reducing carbon. "There's great potential" to make advancement on those goals.
Jackson: "Whether we sign this agreement or not, from the shareholder perspective .... there was little change in the stock price. ... They know we are strongly focused on carbon reductions. This is another example of where we're engaging" with communities to drive that.
Young to staff this time: Last summer, staff shared our goals for climate action to be "broadly changing systems, replicable and scaleable."

How does muni compare to this agreement?
(That was July 2019)
Koehn: Muni, "at its core was an attempt to change the system." But through a partnership, "the projects and options" we're talking about "COULD be scaled and replicated."
"Perhaps" there are communities who might follow us and municipalize, but there's more to the conversation than just *where* we're getting our power, Koehn says.
"They are complementary paths but they take different flavors," he says.
Path Flavor is my favorite flavor.
Catanach: This partnership will "provide examples and set pathways for other communities to follow."

"There's opportunity to provide leadership through example and innovation."
Young: We got an estimate of $600M - $1B last summer about how much it would cost to electrify our buildings. How would that be achieved through the partnership and/or the muni?
Catanach: We talked about last July pursuing partnerships outside the city. At the time, we were talking with a big company about a partnership.
With Xcel, we've agreed to pursue grants and funding, Catanach says. "It's a big challenge; it's a big cost. That's part of the innovation we want to tackle."
Young: Have any surrounding municipal utilities figured that out?
Catanach: Not that I'm aware of. Something being explored in Platte River; Xcel has a program, too.
Jackson: We've asked the PUC (state regulators) to offer rebates to homeowners who charge vehicles at night, and who install vehicle chargers at their homes.

15% of rebates are specifically focused on low-income.
To put electric appliances vs. gas ones in their homes, etc.
Brockett: Glad to see that broadband fiber can be on Xcel's poles. But that's not in the franchise agreement; it's in the settlement agreement. Why is that?
Carr: They try to keep their franchise agreements relatively uniform. Most of the additional agreements were put in the settlement; only the most important (opt-outs, etc.) were put into the franchise agreement.
Pole attachments are "controversial" at the state, Carr says. "It's my opinion it's enforceable" even though it's in the settlement agreement.
Brockett asking about timing for opt-outs. How will the timing work with November elections?
Carr: 16 months was picked because it's more than a year. Climate reports are put out in 3Q or 4Q, so 16 months would cover two elections (same year as the climate report or the next)
Brockett: But what if the report comes out in April? Then you wouldn't have until the next election; you'd have to get it done that year.

Friend: I'm concerned about the same thing. Is that enough time?
Brockett: Would it be possible to word it slightly differently so that if the 16-month period wouldn't cover two elections, it would be lengthened?
Jackson: Instead of putting a month timeframe ... we need notice by mid-December of that second year. So maybe we can word it that way?
Brockett: A lot of the input we've been getting from the community is on the feasibility of the opt-out. Would Xcel be willing to say that you would not litigate our attempt to take an opt-out?
Jackson: I'm not an attorney, but I think the language in the agreement doesn't give us an avenue to sue.
Carr: You could conceivably litigate if you'd met your GHG goals. If we said they didn't meet their goals and they say they did, we have to give them 90 days notice and they cure.

"No basis to sue" on the 5-, 10- and 15-year opt-outs.
Brockett: As I read it, I don't see any way to sue. But it would be "comforting" to the community if Xcel would say they won't sue.
Jackson: If the goals are reported and verified, I think that's the biggest question. Would the city also say if the goals are not verified, the trigger is not activated?
Carr: "It should just be a number. ... We've agreed on what the number is and what the reporting source should be."
Koehn: "You're right, it is a number."
Carr: "I'm loath to say there would never be litigation ... but it's hard to fight over what a number says."
Friend: "There's always room for litigation. Anybody who has gone to law school ... there's no way to say a lawsuit is impossible."
Friend: Will we have info from RFPs in time for voters?
Catanach: "That's certainly our goal."
RFP = Request for Proposal (competitive bidding process)
Catanach: We begin our interviews with the bidders in a couple weeks.
By September, we'll have that information, Catanach says.
Friend asked about campaign contributions as well. Carr going over Boulder's limits; not quite clear what they are. (I almost remember this but not quite so I'll not guess.)
Friend: Could we push the extension of the UOT to 2021?
Friend: Do we have any info on what Xcel's rates could be? There's concern about them being a big question mark.
Carr: Xcel publishes their rates and they are regulated by the PUC. It's a public process through which the rates are set.
Jackson: Residential and commercial rates have declined over the past 5 years. We know we have the plan coming next year; those rates will be decided in there. There is a rate impact protection of no more than 1.5% increase from those climate actions.
Friend: What about equity? My rates might go down bc I put solar on, but they wouldn't for someone who couldn't. How are we addressing that in the muni and/or under Xcel?
Catanach: There are things we do today that we could continue under a municipal utility. "We know our community and can focus in."

Carolyn Elam going to elaborate.
Solar installations and garden acquisitions for lower-income residents. (BHP has quite a bit of solar, I believe)

In the partnership agreement, there is a real effort to undo constraints on solar provision, which would help, Elam says.
Koehn: "At a higher, philosophical level ... we need to answer the question what is inequitable about our current system?"
"It is going to be one of our primary concerns" as a municipal utility, Koehn says.
Friend (asking what she always does): Did this settlement get run through the equity tool?
Catanach: "What we ensured is that we were consulting with the folks in the city who have really become our experts in this."
David Gehr back with campaign info: Anything over $1,000 has to be reported but there are no limits on how much ppl/groups can spend on ballot measures.
Young had a followup q but I missed it. The answer sounded confusing.

LOTS of PR and jargon speak tonight. Really having trouble cutting through it to get plain language.
Koehn: "What I would hope is that we could use the additional horsepower of Xcel" to address inequitable policies quicker than we otherwise would have.
Joseph is asking questions about terms of the agreement as "carrots" rather than actual requirements.
Carr: "Those are real provisions." This is a legal document and agreement. If they don't meet them, then that's a breach of contract.
Wallach: You have $7B of capital investment over the last 5 years in your recent public filing. That could increase our stranded asset cost.
Jackson: "Yes, it's roughly $7.7B spend from 2020 to 2024. But this spend is not just for electric. And not all electric capital costs become stranded costs."
Jackson: It's $785M when you look at electric generation spending over the 5 years that would "be more appropriately considered" in the stranded cost calculation.
Stranded costs (briefly and broadly) = Costs Boulder has to reimburse Xcel for if it does its own utility, bc Xcel planned and invested on the assumption that it would have Boulder as a customer.
Mucho disagreement on what this figure might be. The city so far has declined to provide a range to me. They argue it will be as low as $0 (and there are ways to reduce it) while Xcel has in the past said it could be as much as $350M.
Friend has qs on reliability: What is our starting point? And what's the difference that other muni utility towns might be at? Is it .01 or 20%?
Really good qs from council tonight.
Jackson: Where we benchmark against other utilities in the U.S. is 2nd quartile. "We're not best of the best but we're by far not the worst of the worst."
There's always more you can do, Jackson says.
Catanach: How we compare to neighbors. Fort Collins is one of the best reliability levels in the country. But that's bc 98% of its system is underground. They were a leader in that as early as the 1960s. (He used to work in FoCo).
On average, customers in FoCo experiences an outage once every five years, Catanach says. Boulder is more than that (but no exact figure).

Longmont is about 60% underground.
Also a municipal utility, done decades ago.
Xcel has a plan to bury Boulder's power lines as part of this settlement. $16.5M will be spent in the first 5 years, with the rest ($16.5M) throughout the life of the 20-year franchise.
Catanach: Boulder is on a tree-trimming schedule of every 3-4 years (?) Typically, if you have more outages in a place, you step up the frequency of tree trimming.
OK, we're going to move to public hearing. Not sure how much I'll tweet from this. I might just keep score or tweet interesting comments.
88 speakers
2 min X 88 speakers = Nearly 3 hours
Boulder is once again moving state officials up in the queue.

This is CRAP.
Regular people, revolt.
Will Toor, who is from Boulder, now works for the state. He / Colorado Energy Office / Governor Polis want council to advance the settlement to voters.

He's reading a statement from Polis now.
Toor: "We see real value for the state as a whole from multiple parts of the agreement" between Xcel and Boulder, including the GHG reduction targets.
And lobbying for opening up solar generation capacity of properties. "If Boulder and Xcel walk hand-in-hand" to lobby for that, Toor says, it has a good chance of passing.
John Putnam, also from the state: We need to do what's scaleable and replicable. Transportation is the No. 1 source of emissions in the state; electricity is No. 2.

"We need to have innovative and aggressive pilot actions."
Putnam: We need to do things that other communities can pick up and move pretty quickly.
"If Boulder stands by itself, we probably won't make that progress," Putnam says.
First technical difficulty!

Well, not the first, but the first feedback-y kind.
Jack Walker has the most delightful accent.
Our second speaker, Ramesh Bhatt, bought up the issue of natural gas as part of the emissions-reduction strategy. That was once part of Boulder's plan as well (many, many years ago) but it appears to have been phased out, from what I can tell in my research.
Xcel's strategy, I should clarify.
So far, arguments are mostly: This settlement is happening too quickly; delay a vote until we have more info on the muni costs. "Otherwise, this is not a real choice," Suzanne Bhatt says.
And, on the other side: We've spent 10 years and $27M and don't have answers yet. "Let our voices be heard," as Jack Walker said.
"Xcel is capitalizing on COVID" with this settlement, former city council candidate Susan Peterson says.
Reminder: These negotiations started pre-COVID in January when Yates and Weaver met with Jackson. (Though didn't really pick up and start involving staff until April, post-COVID)
Speakers are being allowed to go over time and I'm NOT about it.
Again, another summation of arguments about the settlement thus far.

Put it on the ballot: Voters deserve the chance to weigh in.
Don't put it on the ballot: Voters are only getting part of the picture, without a final muni cost estimate.
OMG IS IT RAINING? I could cry.
It could just be the sprinkler system but it sure smells like rain. I want to go stand outside in it.
Oh, thunder. I AM going to weep with relief.
I don't get Evan Ravitz sometimes. He's arguing that Xcel can't be trusted (a common one I will dive into in Muni 101) bc they lie. But he's also argued that the *city* has lied on other topics (online petitioning) but I guess now they can be trusted...?
To be clear, I'm not arguing that Xcel/Boulder can/can't be trusted. I'm simply noting what others are arguing.

Again, that will be in Muni 101.
Ravitz also compares Xcel to domestic violence, which is just, NO.
I don't even care about the muni public hearing RH with this rain. It is the best thing.
OMG a poem!
"Put it on the ballot
Let the voters decide
The gap between Xcel and Boulder's goals
Is no longer so wide

Put it on the ballot
Let's stop wasting money on lawsuits
We have better things to do
With our climate change pursuits."
I *think* that's accurate (maybe line 5 is not correct) but I'm not positive. Neil Kolway, if you're reading this, email me!
We're at speaker 20 of 87 so here's another summary of arguments so far.

Xcel sucks!
The city sucks!
2X as many people arguing that this settlement shouldn't go to voters as those arguing it should be on the ballot.
Tim Schoechle: "Xcel is acting now because the muni is getting so close to success."
Also Schoechle: "The voters won't understand these documents any better than you do."

But apparently he understands them. How grand to be so clever.
Cate Lawrence comes right after that with a rebuttal: "Boulder citizens are perfectly capable" of assessing this deal and its options.
Our first Greta Thunberg reference!

"Are you ready to confront a pack of angry Gretas?" David Takahashi asks.
Also Sarah Huntley just gave out her personal cell phone # and I should have jotted it down.
Peter Mayer with a really well-worded phrase: "Let us not be a national example of capitulation."

Idk why but that has a good mouth feel.
Lots of speakers arguing against putting it on the ballot, but then citing past votes of the electorate as examples of democracy.

So... the people voting is good but only if it's already happened?
But still arguing for a vote, just not this year.

Past people voting = Good
Future people voting = Good
Present people voting = Bad
I know it's more complicated than that (as I've tweeted) but it just feels a little inconsistent. (And it's a theme that's repeated in other issues, I've noticed.)
“What would a council member have to believe to refuse to let us vote?” Alan Bernstein asks. Maybe you think you know better than us, and don't trust us.
Points for John Russell for being under time!
Randall Erica Clarke: "We've already voted for it. Now we're just waiting to see what it costs."
Man, speakers keep doing pro- and con- back-to-back.

Joe Breddan: The people you're hearing tonight and in emails are very involved. We know what we're talking about. (Doesn't want settlement on the ballot)
Karey Christ-Janer: You're not hearing from a broad enough cross-section of the population. (Wants the settlement on the ballot)
Dan Powers: "I was a young man" when we started talking about municipalization.
Crystal Gray: We should have asked Xcel to pay us to re-enter into a franchise, like they did in La Cruces, NM. They got $20M.
Also Gray: The city's robust public process is really where you get a diverse set of views, not by putting this on the ballot.
Your reminder that only 13% of renters have ever attended a city meeting of some sort. 32% of homeowners have.…
Oh, snap, we're halfway through the public hearing! Just passed speaker No. 44.
Scott Hatfield sounds exactly like Keanu Reeves in Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure
Can't. Stop. Laughing.
Mentally adding "BRO" after all of his sentences.
"You want to maintain some nimbleness, bro, to address climate change."
(Bro was mine but that was otherwise a direct quote.)
Speakers dropping like flies as we push past 10 p.m
Devyn Simeoni: "Money has no value on a planet without people."
My nightmares now are just one Zoom participant after another saying, "CAN YOU HEAR ME??" over and over again until I cry.
We're at speaker No. 61 and "put it on the ballot" speakers are outweighed 3-to-1 so far.
Probably a good time to share where council members stand on the muni, based on past votes (I looked through all 10 years of council action) and statements.

Where does council stand? The majority of members are pro-muni.
Bob Yates is the only one who has been openly critical of the muni. He has consistently voted against efforts and was involved in bringing Xcel and Boulder back to to the negotiating table this year. In 2017, he voted in the minority to put a settlement to voters.
That obviously failed; it was a 3-6 vote, so the settlement never got to the ballot.
Mayor Sam Weaver: Ardent supporter of the muni. Prior to being on council, he served on groups that studied aspects of municipalization. He works in renewable energy and owns Cool Energy, which develops and manufactures engines that convert waste heat into energy.
Voted against putting a 2017 settlement to voters.
Mary Young: Has consistently voted for the muni. Voted against putting a 2017 settlement to voters.

Mirabai Nagle: Has voted for every muni measure thus far. (Wasn't on council for the 2017 settlement; also not here tonight so won't be voting.)
Aaron Brockett: Has consistently voted for the muni as the "only path" to 100% renewable energy — he voted against putting the 2017 settlement to voters — but has shown himself more willing to draw lines than other pro-muni council members.
For example, in 2016 he voted against forcibly annexing Boulder businesses to better position the muni over the objections of owners. (Yates joined in the dissent, while Weaver and Young supported the move.)
Now council members who haven't really voted on the muni yet.

Adam Swetlik: "Firmly" pro-muni; has said the effort is "worth every penny." He has not voted on any muni matter except to OK pursuing settlement negotiations with Xcel.
Junie Joseph: Is "definitely" pro-muni, mostly for the value of putting an essential utility into the hands of the people. She has not voted on any muni matter except to OK pursuing settlement negotiations with Xcel.
Mark Wallach: Wrote an op-ed opposing the muni before he was elected to council, but during campaigning, switched to a position of support and made it a tenet of his platform. He attributed the change to learning how "fossil-fuel dependent" Colorado was.
He has not voted on any muni matter except to OK pursuing settlement negotiations with Xcel.
Rachel Friend: Categorizes herself as a tentative supporter, saying she'd need to see the numbers before deciding. But has also made statements indicating she thinks taxpayer money would be better spent on other climate initiatives.
She has not voted on any muni matter except to OK pursuing settlement negotiations with Xcel.
I should clarify I don't know if pursuing a settlement was an actual vote or an informal one; it's not in my notes and the last time I checked the official minutes weren't in the archive yet.

Will follow up.
OK we've got like 15-20 speakers left so I'mma walk my dogs real quick since my roommate is a jerk and has managed to be gone BOTH nights I had council meetings this week but here every other night.
Already at the last speaker! (Maybe)
Karen Conduff: "How are we supposed to get our voices heard during a pandemic?"

Karen, you're late. We've been having this conversation since April.
This is a new argument (also from Conduff): We shouldn't be focusing on this bc we should be focusing all our attention on removing Trump from office.
Did not expect a reference to the pope in this discussion, but there you are.
Council qs now, then we'll do a 5-min break and move to deliberations / votes.
First one was raised by Joseph way back at the beginning: What does natural gas/fracking have to do with any of this?
Koehn: While Xcel's methane emissions will be tracked/reported, etc. the "sourcing" of natural gas will not be.
Carr answering a Joseph question that sounded dumb but apparently I'm the dumb one. It's about whether or not Boulder can lobby on the Community Choice legislation at the state level. (The Edie Hooton bill; it didn't pass this year)

No limits on Boulder's lobbying for this.
Or any other state measures.
"We had a huge fight" about that during negotiations, Weaver says.
Yates asking qs I've asked about other costs but not got answered:
Startup costs: $30M
Separation costs: $180M
Those are in addition to the actual cost to buy Xcel's system, which has a voter-approved cap of $214M (the deal would cap it at $200M)
Friend asked about carrying over the settlement deal.
Jackson: "Every agreement comes up at a certain point in time. ... Holding this for another year, circumstances could change" and we'll have to come back to the table.
Friend: Could we decide tonight that we do this in a March special election or is this specifically for voters in November?
Jackson: This is for voters in November.
Friend: What is staff's position that we will know full costs to have a go/no-go vote?

We went over this earlier: Current plan is for 2022, but that is subject to change. And Catanach didn't seem too sure about it.
It's really dependent on the condemnation court case. "How long those take, it's hard to determine. Those could take quite a bit of time," Catanach says. "It could be late .... well, Tom, I don't want to guess."
Carr: "If everything goes well, we could make the 2022 ballot. ... There's still a possibility we would delay that further."
Friend: It's safe to say we're at least 2 years away from the finish line?
Carr: Yes.
Young: What is the equivalent between 80% carbon reduction = in terms of renewable energy?
Carr: It's to some extent apples and oranges. ... Obviously the more renewables you have on the system, the fewer carbon you emit. ... The city's goal is 100% renewables and that should result in fewer GHG.
Young: I'm trying to understand the gap and how can we close it. To Jackson: What is your plan for renewables?
Jackson: It depend on what comes forward in the next plan. We've shown by 2025 we'll be at 55% renewables; 65-70% by 2030
But that's "highly dependent" on technologies being developed, Jackson says.
We're talking about Guzman Energy, which is the supplier for Fountain and (I believe) paid 3 Dif municipalities (2 co-ops) to separate from their energy providers.

In Fountain, Guzmain paid the exit fee for that town to leave its utility company.
It's not the same as what Boulder is trying to do, Catanach says. "What we have received is not similar or not what Guzman has done."

Guzman did not bid in Boulder's RFP.
According to Catanach.

Boulder doesn't have an exit fee, also. We're already out of franchise.
And the payments that Guzman made are going to be rolled into future rates, Catanach said.
Brockett: That required an existing utility, right? So if we finish municipalization, maybe we can get a deal like that. But we're trying to create a utility...?
Catanach: "We were certainly hoping" to get a deal like that with our competitive bidding.
Catanach: "Their deals were smaller and isolated. What we're trying to achieve is much bigger and more complex."

Brockett clarifies: We still have to buy Xcel's lines, poles, substations, etc. That's Step 1. A deal like Fountain's would be Step 2.
Catanach confirms.
Catanach: If our acquisition costs come in "much higher than anticipated" what that does is reduce available cash for projects and other things, bc we've committed to rates equitable to Xcel.
Still waiting on answers as to what "comparable" means (any specific metrics there?) and how long Boulder's rates have to be comparable to Xcel's.
Catanach: As we get to the "outer edge" of financial feasibility in some models, "There may be 2-3 years where we are not cash-flow positive. ... It's difficult to say where we'd be until we have those final costs."
Catanach: With the $200M cap in the settlement deal "currently it is still financially viable to pursue the muni. ... We would be cash-flow positive over the course of a 5-10 year period."

And that includes some stranded costs. Doesn't say how much.
Young: Could we consider a franchise re-establishment payment from Xcel to Boulder, as some speakers suggested happened in Las Cruces?
Jackson: I can't say bc I don't know what it is. But the settlement that's on the table is the one that's on the table.
Young asked about load, which Koehn answered. I don't really want to tweet bc I don't quite understand it.

She apparently doesn't either, bc she says "% would be helpful."
The point was to get at the "gap" between Xcel's goals and Boulder's by 2030

Elam: It's about the equivalent of 14,000 metric tons.
Or, as Young put it... maybe 15%....?
V confused.
Back at it. We just have voting (and speeches) so it shouldn't take too long but, again, speeches.
Weaver: Over the last 10-15 years, Boulder has done a really nice job of coming up with really crisp climate goals.

100% renewables by 2030
100 mw local renewable generation by 2030 (we're at 65)
Weaver going over the 3D's (democratize, decentralize, decarbonize) and what they mean to him.

Democratize is to allow Boulder to advocate on behalf of citizens in any planning.
"There's no question a muni would allow the city to have control over all those elements," Weaver says. "There's no question the deal with Xcel cannot be as good as a muni.

The question is: How good is the deal and how likely is a muni?"
Weaver: The muni is running out of $$ to get us the final answer on costs. "I was starting to worry about it a little bit as we came into 2020."
"There's likelihood we could get to 2022 and not have all the numbers," Weaver says. We haven't even started condemnation yet, the actual court case. We've got federal regulators still to go...
"I was concerned before COVID," he says. "At the beginning, I thought we should ride it out. ... I didn't understand what COVID was going to look like." All the biz that would close, evictions, etc.
Weaver: This has longer tax implications. If the stars align, we might need more $$ in 2022 and beyond. Can we go back to the voters and ask for it? Will they give it?

"That was the context in which I was thinking" when we got the offer to start settlement talks.
"I've been a muni supporter bc it would clearly and without a doubt get us to our goals. It's just a matter of when that would be," Weaver says. I've been in past settlements.

"This is a radically different deal than what we looked at before."
Weaver: "This is a fairly good deal. This is not municipalization."
The partnership with Xcel is the most intriguing part, Weaver says. "It could be a nothing burger" but it's so different from what we've done in the past.
Going over the team from Xcel and Boulder that will guide the partnership. That way, we know who to go to if it's not working.
"I have faith that future councils are really going to push on that gap" between Xcel and Boulder's goals, Weaver says. "We are not aligned on how to close that gap, yet." But other communities are going to be pushing Xcel, too, and we don't want to be "paying a premium."
Weaver: A "sleeper" element but important one is the data sharing Xcel will have to do. This agreement will "regularize" (is that even a word?) information sharing, which "empowers us to ask for what we want."

"Knowledge is power."
Weaver: "Is municipalization scaleable? We know we could probably get it done," but would other communities do it? "We've beaten the path" so it would be easier for them but maybe not. But a settlement with Xcel, "I expect there will be other communities interested."
Quotes FDR with a word I've never heard.
"We had a little tussle" over including ALL emission gases, not just carbon, Weaver says. "This is the entire spectrum ... and the company signed up for it, for which I give them great credit."
Tonight is not the final vote, he reminds ppl. This is the discussion, "but if we learn something crazy," the actual final vote is Sept. 1.
If we don't do the settlement, we'll probably be facing "stop the muni" citizen referrals in 2021 and maybe 2022. That won't get us anything: It will just stop the muni.

This deal gets us something, Weaver says.
Weaver: "A vote this year is actually the best for Boulder."
Weaver: "It's not going to get any better. We have a deal to look at. We need to ask the community, 'What do you think?'"
Weaver: "You all know I've been a huge muni supporter, the whole time. But this is a different day. Things have changed."
Thanks all the speakers. "Everyone is passionate about this, and they should be."
OK, bro, it's been 20 min. Pass the mic.
Wallach agrees.
"I give great weight to what you said because I know how committed you have been to the municipalization movement over the years," Wallach says.
"I look for ... not perfection, but is there merit and substance to what has been negotiated?" Wallach says. "I think there is," so voters should get to weigh in.
"To me, voting is an important right," Wallach says.
"We need to be cognizant" of the financial reality, Wallach says. "We promised a go/no-go vote. I think we are fulfilling that promise. ... It's not in the form people hoped to see."
Wallach: "We're not killing the muni tonight. We're simply saying it's time for other people to speak."
Brockett also agrees with "everything" Weaver said.
Would not be surprised if this was unanimous.
Of course, Nagle was absent. Did she send her thoughts in an email? Anyone know?
Brockett: "The reality is it's a minimum of 2 years out (from a go/no-go) and possibly longer."
"We have a lot of community members who are struggling and suffering right now" that we need to consider with our limited budget dollars, Brockett says.
Brockett: "I've always felt for an issue that was this consequential and where the community was this divided that the final decisions should always be in the hands of the voters."
Young pronounces "Herculean" like I've never heard it.

She also supports putting the deal to voters.
Young: "I was really struck last summer" by the need to have "systems change that is replicable and scaleable." I asked myself, 'Will the muni do that?' and I've been asking myself that ever since."
Young: We're 12-18 months out from getting the costs of buying Xcel's system, "and that's if all the stars aligned. We've been doing this for 10 years; the stars have never aligned."
Young: With budget cuts, we've lost operational capacity. Staff morale is low. Adding a utility to that... I'm not sure I want to put that stress on them.
Thanks Jackson for staying through the whole thing. "I hope you understand that Xcel has trust issues. I hope that if this were to pass, that your commitment to earn the trust is genuine and authentic. I hope beyond all hope that is true."
She pronounced genuine as genuWINE. What is up with this woman?
Friend: "I have trust in the off-ramps. They're legitimately written."

Supports putting this to the voters. "This is a generational decision we're making. It has to be a decision that gets us to the environmental climate crisis goals we've always been after."
Swetlik: "I really appreciate the pragmatism that council is showing. ... But I think I'm still just a little bit too young to not be idealistic."

NOT in favor of putting this to voters.
Swetlik: "It seems to me that every roadblock has been put in the way by Xcel. This has just been a set of roadblocks that steers us into this offering. I understand it, I get it; it's a much better off-ramp than we've had in the past."
Swetlik: "I hear a lot for my generation, 'Hey you probably shouldn't' have kids bc of the carbon footprint. You shouldn't drive a car and you should feel bad about it.' I'm not going to vote for a carbon emitter to continue acting that way."
Interesting but not altogether unsurprising.
Joseph: "I'm closer to where Adam is than to where you are, Sam. ... It could be that I'm wet behind the ears. I'm still young and I'm still hopeful."
Joseph: "I'm still thinking, I'm still processing all this. I've notice here that my vote is not needed and Adams' vote is not needed. From everything I've heard, it's probably going to make it on the ballot."
She really loves not voting.
Jackson didn't talk about equity at all when she had the chance; Boulder's staff did. That says a lot to me, Joseph says.
Yates is last and unless something truly crazy happens, he'll be for the settlement, since he's the one who started talking with Xcel and has always been against the muni.
It would be "easier and less courageous" to put our heads down and continue with the muni, he says, rather than putting the deal on the ballot.
Yates: Those interim goals Xcel has to meet for Boulder, those are not just IN Boulder. They're for the whole state. The whole state, the whole world will benefit.
The under grounding Xcel has agreed to ($33M over 20 years) gets us one-third of the way there, Yates says.
Yates: "We do not have the bonding capacity to do municipalization and broadband (internet). The muni has been standing in the way" of us doing that. If we partner with Xcel, that opens up the ability to do our own broadband.
I like this deal bc the governor likes it, Yates says. I'm a fan of Jared.

"If Jared likes something, I'm going to pay attention."
(Can't wait for all these council member quotes tonight to come back and be used against them in the occupancy discussion. Governor Polis suggested that cities suspend their occupancy limits due to COVID. Council will discuss, maybe, Sept. 15)
Yates: If we don't settle, we'll have to go to condemnation court. Rulings may go our way, and we'll have better leverage, or they'll go against us and we'll be wishing we had taken this deal.
Yates: We've spent $25M so far. The voters only gave us $29M. We're down to our last $4M. That's only going to last us another year or two. "All the stars would have to align for that $4M to do the trick."

If they don't we'll run out of $$. "We simply don't have a plan B."
"We're not close to the muni," Yates says. People who say we are 11:59 "are simply not looking at the facts."
All of the remaining council members combined did not talk for as long as Sam and Bob did individually.
I mean, I guess they were the most informed since they were in negotiations. But still. Yada, yada, yada.
"I don't understand the accusation that this has been rushed," Yates says.

I kinda get that one, since Carr even said that negotiations happened really quickly.
I don't think that's necessarily an argument against putting the deal to voters, but I will be including it in arguments why you might not want to vote for this deal.
"We haven't checked in with the voters since 2017," Yates says. "This is the longest gap" since we started.

"This is Boulder's Civil War. We're split right down the middle."
Yates: If we don't put it to voters, that would be us deciding for them to continue with the muni. On the ballot, voters get to make that call.

"I still trust our voters to make wise decisions for our community."
So that's 6 in favor, 2 against (assuming Joseph votes that way when she eventually does) and Nagle absent.
Jesus it's 12:20 and we haven't even talked about the UOT extension yet. Ya'll killing me.
Doing some fiddling with the deadlines Boulder will have to opt-out of a franchise in the future.
We have a motion! 6-2 (Swetlik, Joseph opposed)
So this is heading to the ballot (unless something drastic happens.)
They voted for something else but I have no idea what. Also 6-2.
I hate when they use ordinance numbers and don't describe what they are.
OK it was the franchise agreement with Xcel (the first one was the settlement agreement)
And now we've STILL got the UOT discussion. Kill me now.
Weaver: Do we want to repurpose the UOT at least for two years? And/or extend it through 2030?

I would support repurposing and extending bc that funds the work on the Boulder side all the way though Xcel's 80% GHG reduction goals.
Friend: I would repurpose it but wait to extend it until next year and we see where people are with COVID. They might need tax relief.
Brockett: I would go a step further and not pass either of them. It ends up being more $$ %-wise for lower-income folks. I would let it lapse this year and then come back to it when the financial picture is hopefully better for our community.
Swetlik: I think repurposing is important bc there's not a lot of equity in the settlement, and this could address them. It's important to repurpose.
Young has a q for Yates. The CAP tax is sunsetting and we might use that...?
Brautigam: The CAP tax has dedicated funding already for projects that we are funding, including staff members. "We're very strongly urging you" to at least ask voters to repurpose these funds.
"We need to retain staff to work with Xcel on the many projects we hope to initiate," Brautigam says.
Wallach is with Friend. Let's repurpose but hold off on extending. "I'm not sure what the urgency is to get it done at 12:36 today."
Gehr: The revenue dedication is voter approved so if you're going to change that, it would need to be approved by voters again.
Brockett: I hadn't seen that strong of a recommendation from staff. And I do see the equity elements of that; if that continues to be a strong component of the repurposing, I could support that.
Brings up the point that the funds could possibly be used to help people pay utility bills, as Carr outlined earlier (but that was different from the way it was originally approved)
Not approved; proposed. Apologies. It's really late.
Weaver: There's consensus to repurpose, so at least let's do that. And maybe extend in 2022, when it would expire.

Reminder: This is just to ask voters. They still have to approve this.
Maybe some talk to extend it to 2025...?

Brockett doesn't support. "But ya'll can do it if you want to."
About to do a straw poll to see who else might support that.
Majority support for repurposing the tax and extending it through 2025. I missed who was opposed other than Friend and Brockett.
Swetlik was also opposed.

Formal vote: 5-3.

So that will be on your ballots as well.
"This is now in the hands of voters," Weaver says.
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