Boulder leaders said their offers to acquire Xcel Energy’s assets have gone unanswered, so the city on Friday in Boulder District Court filed a petition to condemn those assets.
The city first offered $68.5 million before increasing the final offer to $82 million to acquire the assets in its push to create its own municipal electric utility.
Both the city and Xcel had previously declined to provide estimates on the costs associated with acquiring the assets to create a municipal utility, but past proposals had put the number in the hundreds of millions. Now the city is turning to the courts to determine the cost it should pay Xcel for the assets.
“We sent our notice of intent in January, offered them our appraisal in the beginning of April and sent a final offer — which was the $82 million — a few weeks ago,” Boulder senior counsel Kathy Haddock said. “They’ve asked questions, but they haven’t responded or been willing to negotiate.”
The city is still aiming to have all costs determined in time for a 2020 community vote on final public authorization, but lengthy condemnation proceedings could threaten that timeline.
“Waiting would mean we would not have the numbers in time,” Haddock said. “… We are trying to work on a reasonable schedule for what the voters gave us, rather than waiting for Xcel to respond.”
Added city spokeswoman Emily Sandoval: “We’re just trying to keep the ball moving forward.”
However, Sandoval said, regardless of what cost figure the court returns, the city will not pay that price before the community vote.
“No matter what the condemnation court says, we would not be paying that price unless and until the voters approve it and the separation construction is complete,” Sandoval said.
Xcel will have 21 days to file a motion to dismiss or answer the complaint. The company has maintained that condemnation cannot proceeds while the process before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission continues. Earlier this month, Boulder filed with the PUC a proposed plan to resolve issues with Xcel and a response to previous filings by Xcel.
“We believe the CPUC was clear in the actions that must be taken by the city of Boulder to proceed to condemnation and those actions have not been fulfilled,” Xcel spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo said previously in a written statement.
On Friday, Aguayo maintained that position in another written statement.
“Based on the Boulder District Court’s decision the Colorado Public Utilities Commission laid out the steps necessary to ensure that customers and other stakeholders are protected during this process,” Aguayo said. “To this date, that hasn’t been completed. Boulder’s decision to move forward is premature and may only cause delays.”
In settling a separate legal dispute, Boulder City Council earlier this month passed on emergency an ordinance to dissolve the utility it created on paper in 2014. As part of the settlement agreement, the city agreed to dissolve the utility and not create a new one unless it is approved by voters, and Xcel agreed not to use the city’s lack of a utility against the city in the condemnation lawsuit.