Skip to content

Breaking News


Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the terms of a proposed franchise agreement with Xcel Energy.

Proposed franchise and settlement agreements between Boulder city officials and Xcel Energy have been revised to address community concerns, according to a news release from the city.

The revised agreements, released Monday, include changes and clarification on the opt-out provisions, as well as Xcel’s agreement not to intervene directly in a campaign in this election or any election to terminate the franchise based on 2022 greenhouse gas emissions targets.

The Boulder City Council is considering asking voters in November to approve a 20-year franchise agreement with Xcel, bringing to an end — for now — the city’s quest to operate its own electric utility through municipalization.

The franchise agreement would mean modern grid planning for Boulder and and a partnership to meet its goals of 100% renewable electricity by 2030, while giving the city six chances to opt out of the franchise by a six-person vote of City Council or a majority of Boulder voters. The agreement also includes assurances that Xcel would reduce its 2005 carbon emission levels by 80% by 2030.

The city may opt out for any reason on the fifth, 10th and 15th years of the agreement, according to the revisions. Or the city may opt out if Xcel doesn’t meet greenhouse gas emissions benchmarks by certain dates, including a commitment by 2030 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 2005 levels.

The opt-out provision in the revised agreement was changed to include all greenhouse gases as measured by carbon dioxide equivalents. The prior agreement referred only to carbon dioxide.

The revised agreement also gives the City Council and Boulder voters up to 16 months to decide whether to exercise the greenhouse gas opt-out provision. The prior agreement only allowed for 30 days.

If the franchise is approved by voters, the city and Xcel would settle any ongoing disputes, including the city’s effort to condemn Xcel’s assets in an attempt to acquire them for municipalization.

The pending condemnation case would be dismissed by both parties; Boulder would withdraw a settlement offer from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Xcel would dismiss its pending award of attorney’s fees; and “neither (Xcel) or Boulder shall seek or receive any award of cost or attorney’s fees arising from any pending litigation.”

Under the settlement, Xcel will also release two letters of credit — one for $2.6 million for substation design engineering and one for $1.7 million for distribution design engineering.

The maximum price for the city acquiring Xcel’s assets — including the NCAR and Gunbarrel substations — would be $200 million. Boulder would agree to build new substations near Xcel’s existing substations.

The City Council is set to conduct a public hearing on the franchise agreement Thursday, and residents are able to sign up for public comment through 5 p.m. Thursday. Participants can sign up to speak by visiting

Join the Conversation

We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.