Boulder has renewed its contract with Heather Bailey, the Texas energy executive the city hired to lead its municipalization efforts.

Bailey, Boulder's executive director of energy strategy and electric utility development, was hired in 2012 on a two-year contract to lead the exploration phase of municipalization.

When she started, she earned $250,000 a year, making her the city's highest-paid employee. Due to merit raises, Bailey now earns $272,361. Under the terms of the contract extension, Bailey will continue at that salary but be eligible for future merit raises.

Bailey also has a $31,000-a-year housing allowance because her position is temporary.

Boulder spokeswoman Sarah Huntley said City Manager Jane Brautigam has been impressed with the professional expertise and skills Bailey has brought to the first phase of municipalization exploration, as well as with her understanding of the importance of public process in Boulder.

Brautigam believes Bailey is the right person to take the city through the next phase, Huntley said, which includes acquiring Xcel Energy's Boulder distribution system and creating a transition plan.

The city plans to request applications and do a separate hiring process for the position of executive director of the future utility, Huntley said. Bailey could apply for that job if she is interested, but the contract extension does not mean that Bailey would run the utility.


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Bailey's salary is paid for by the utility occupation tax, which Boulder voters agreed to raise to pay for the exploration of municipalization. That tax expires at the end of 2017, and Bailey's contract extension runs for the duration of that tax.

Huntley said Boulder could end its agreement with Bailey early if the city decides not to create a municipal energy utility.

The Boulder City Council has authorized city officials to move forward with condemnation, and the city is engaged in negotiations with Xcel, a required precursor to filing an eminent domain case to acquire Xcel's assets.

The City Council also has formally created the energy utility, though right now it is only a paper entity that doesn't take in any revenue or run anything.

Officials have said the city will make the final decision about whether to create the utility once the full costs are known.

Boulder officials believe a city-run utility could provide greener energy with drastically lower carbon emissions while charging the same or lower rates than Xcel and improving reliability.