Boulder Voters Favor Their Own Electric Company, Reject Xcel Measure

The Xcel Energy-sponsored Measure 310, which would have slowed Boulder’s push for a municipal electric utility, failed by a wide margin at the polls Tuesday, despite receiving about triple the amount of campaign dollars as the prevailing, city-sponsored Measure 2E. The competing energy measures received international interest, and drew about $1.4 million in contributions.

The nearly 67 percent of voters who said “yes” on 2E cleared the way for the Boulder City Council to incur $214 million in debt to begin acquiring Xcel’s distribution system in Boulder.

Measure 2E  amends the city’s home rule charter and continues the path city voters began in 2011 to explore forming a cost-effective municipal electric utility that uses more renewable energy sources than the current model in place by Xcel.

The night proved to be a big loss for Xcel. As of Oct. 31, the energy giant invested $531,147 into passing 310. If the measure had passed, Boulder residents, some of whom put the issue on the ballot via a citizens’ initiative, would have been able to approve a total dollar amount of all debt before the city could move forward with the so-called “municipalization” of electric service.

But almost 69 percent of the nearly 30,000 residents who voted rejected the measure. Five issue committees raised $342,634 to oppose 310 and promote 2E, according to latest reports filed with the city.

The groups purchased ads portraying 310 as Xcel’s secret initiative to prevent the city from forming a greener energy utility. Contributions came locally and from afar from those who want to see municipalization succeed in Boulder.

Competing groups, including Voter Approval of Debt Limits and Public Service Committee of Colorado, raised more than $1 million to back 310. The campaign charge that municipalization could cost as much as $405 million was not strong enough to sink it.

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