Boulder officials hope they can coordinate with Xcel Energy for a smooth transition over a two-year period to a city-run energy utility, but they are making plans to run it from a literal and not just a figurative "day one."

Heather Bailey, Boulder's executive director of energy strategy and electric utility development, and Linda Kushner, a consultant with PowerService, gave a presentation Tuesday to the Boulder City Council on transition plans for a potential municipal energy utility.

Bailey said the Colorado Public Utilities Commission will have a greater influence on how the transition goes than the district court that will oversee the condemnation process.

Bailey said Boulder officials hope that the PUC, with its concerns for regional reliability, will tell Xcel to work with the city on the transition plan.

"We assume that Xcel will not let us touch the system until we write the check," she said. "The outcome at the PUC is the most significant piece. With condemnation, at the end, we write a check. If it's too expensive, we don't. We really hope the PUC is willing to direct Xcel to work with us on this transition plan."

Kushner laid out two scenarios. In one, Boulder would take ownership of the system and set rates and bill customers, but Xcel would continue to provide wholesale power for 18 to 24 months. Xcel crews would also continue to run the system as Boulder gradually took over day-to-day operations.

In the other, Boulder would immediately be responsible for every aspect of operations. Boulder would need to have contractors on hand to move into key roles right way and power-purchase agreements already approved to supply power. While the transition would be more logistically challenging in this scenario, the city's power supply could more quickly transition to more renewable energy.

Kushner said there are contractors who can ramp up quickly and be on hand for a "day one" transition.

The transition plans assume the city will take over operation of the utility in late 2016.

Boulder will start issuing requests for proposals for power supply, rate analysis and call center operations in 2015 and for operations in early 2016.

Bailey said the city also will be convening some new working groups, including reconvening the governance working group and forming new groups on reliability and power supply.

Bailey said the city also wants to take more abstract ideas about creating "the utility of the future" and develop them in a more "granular" way that could start to be implemented.

"We don't want to lose sight of why we're doing this," she said.

Boulder voters in 2011 authorized the City Council to form a municipal utility as a way to achieve a greener energy supply. The city hopes to begin condemnation proceedings for Xcel Energy's Boulder distribution system by fall of this year.