Municipalization Vote in 2011

January 1, 2012

50.4% – 49.6% (13,353 to 13,141): the margin of “victory” in Boulder’s municipalization referendum (occupation tax extension) on Nov. 1 was 2011’s top Boulder story. We’re a progressive and well-educated town, but consensus on the way forward eluded us, even as more violent weather events occur worldwide and rapidly warming polar regions scream out for aggressive climate change-slowing solutions. I’d wager greater than 85 percent of Boulder’s voters agree on the city’s climate action goals. Our debate is about means and methods, and how to get the most bang for our bucks, sooner than later.
Should we immediately seek comprehensive legislative changes (i.e., community choice aggregation, local power generation flexibility, PUC reform, etc.)? Of course. Xcel may want to gird for battle, but isn’t half a loaf better than none? Renewables-YES supporters should reconsider spending hundreds of millions of dollars for wires, poles and transformers, when we might rent them, leave their maintenance and replacement to Xcel, and focus our energy investments on conservation (insulation, door and window sealing and upgrade incentives and partnerships, etc.), plus renewables (roof top and community solar, geothermal, hydro and wind power installations), along with natural gas conversion of the Valmont coal plant.
The business model for promoting energy conservation, and managing generation and distribution of energy resources, must evolve systemically and quickly or we’re going to experience a world of hurt. Boulder’s razor-thin November election margin screams out for a more comprehensive approach — one that has regional, national and international potential for rapid implementation. Carpe Diem!
Ed Byrne
edbyrne@smartlanduse.com
KareyCJ: A huge “thank you” to Ed Byrne for his perspective. Very well said! It just seems so incredibly likely that there are energy policies which could be enacted (or effected, or simply utilized) which could meet Climate Action Plans more quickly than muni. I just had a huge debate with my friends at the coffee-shop I frequent about the anti-corporate stance. My position: Apple is a corporation. Who hates Apple? It’s so much about corporate policy, and of course, regulation. Not going to debate this here, but what feels relevant is that I think/hope (?) we could work toward energy policies that are sustainable all-the-way-around-the-table. Boulder is not the only area of Colorado pushing for local energy generation. I’m hoping that WE, as energy activists/those ho care about the issue might find a forum to come together and develop seed-ideas for policies that are a true win/win–and start from there. There has to be a way. If not? We fight with Xcel, I guess. But I don’t think that Xcel executives want the company to be hated, like er, another utility I can think of (by some). It’s also incredibly bad PR and expensive for them to fight. And so far, they’ve lost a few times, eh? If WE (activists) come up with potentially sustainable policies and try to sell those ideas to the powers that be, then maybe (and really just “maybe”) we can help make a difference. Or, not. But we will have tried. Happy New Year to anyone who reads this post!—Karey

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