For a while now Boulder, CO, has wanted to green its energy supply and not just the city or county buildings, but the whole place. Earlier this year it announced that it will go 100 percent renewable by 2030 and years ago it began an investigation to determine if it could create its own municipal utility that runs solely on renewable energy like wind and solar power, cost effectively. Turns out, it can and could save $100 million over 10 years in doing so.
Currently, the city and its residents get their electricity from Colorado’s largest utility, Xcel Energy. But yesterday (Nov. 8) Boulder said that it found that creating its own local electric utility would be cost-effective over a 20-year period and could quickly incorporate renewable electricity.
The city publicly introduced its “Financial Forecast Tool” and published four scenarios of future energy costs. Three showed long-term cost savings, driven by low-cost renewable resources and less expensive power supply, over 20 years. The scenarios included the budget for creating and operating a utility, the cost to purchase power and the cost of acquiring electric system assets from Xcel Energy.
“The city is committed to updating our modeling assumptions,” said Jonathan Koehn, regional sustainability coordinator. “The Financial Forecast Tool is the next iteration in determining whether a local electric utility is cost effective. It’s user-friendly and allows anyone to test various inputs.”
Under the base case of the analysis—the most likely scenario—for creating a municipal utility, Boulder said that after expenses and debt payments are met, the analysis showed that it would generate approximately $13 million in savings over five years and over $100 million over 10 years when compared to keeping Xcel Energy as its utility. “In terms of cash flow, this means that a municipal utility would have positive cash flow in each year of the 20-year forecast, approximately $57 million after five years and approximately $200 million after 10 years.”
“These are impressive revenues, and they would stay in our community,” said Heather Bailey, executive director of Energy Strategy and Electric Utility Development. “This money could fund any number of programs, from significant improvements to reliability, or lower rates compared to Xcel, to the kind of innovative and equitable projects we know our community will expect.”Tweet