Boulder to explore ways to encourage more use of solar energy in city

September 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

The city of Boulder announced Tuesday it will create a working group made up of solar industry experts and current and potential customers to look into implementing more solar energy should the city move forward with the creation of a municipal electric utility.

The focus of the group will be on looking into incentives for people to move to solar energy as well as solar energy contracts, according to a city news release.

“Supporting and increasing renewable sources of energy is a core value, and we see this discussion as an important next step in our effort to create the electric utility of the future,” said Heather Bailey, Boulder’s Energy Future executive director.

According to the city, Boulder already has one of the highest levels of solar use per capita in the U.S., with almost 14 megawatts installed in the city.

“We don’t want to simply continue this tradition; we want to make it even stronger by working with stakeholders to identify ways to encourage even more locally generated clean energy sources. This is fundamental to achieving our community’s goals, whether we create our own electric utility or strike a new agreement with our current provider, Xcel Energy,” Bailey said in the statement.

Boulder officials said Xcel Energy sent a letter asking Boulder to take over solar contracts it has with customers should the city form its own electric utility.

Xcel said the letter was actually about how the city and Xcel should treat contracts made during the ongoing deliberations about the possible municipal utility.

“We have reached out about the ground rules on how to move forward with these programs,” Xcel spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo said.

Aguayo said pre-existing contracts likely would be settled through litigation.

Boulder officials said they want to protect any investment customers made with Xcel, but they have no way of evaluating estimates Xcel has made about those costs.

“Before we can agree to any arrangement, we need more information from Xcel Energy,” City Attorney Tom Carr said in the news release. “The company so far has declined most of the requests for data the city has made. Without detailed information about these contracts, we have no way of verifying Xcel’s assertions and perhaps more importantly, of making sure we are doing the right thing to protect our forward-thinking customers and other ratepayers.”

The new solar energy group’s first meeting likely will take place shortly after the Nov. 5 election.

Residents who are interested in participating in the group can contact Bailey at 303-441-1923 or

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