2C: Public Service Company of Colorado (Xcel Energy) Franchise

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Boulder voters will consider five ballot measures on the Nov. 3, 2020, election, including this one. Use the form on this page to ask the city factual questions about this ballot measure. City staff will answer questions submitted through Oct. 16.


Overview

Voters will decide whether the City of Boulder enters into a new 20-year franchise with Public Service Company of Colorado (Xcel Energy). A franchise agreement allows Xcel to use the city’s streets, public spaces and other rights-of-way to deliver electricity and natural gas.

The franchise agreement is a part of a larger settlement package that is subject to voter approval of the franchise agreement. The settlement package includes an agreement that the city will pause its efforts to create a local electric utility, an agreement for Xcel and the city to work together to meet the city’s energy goals and terms for how the city can opt-out of the franchise in future years. Read about the settlement package and access documents on the city website.

Ask questions about the franchise agreement or larger settlement package here.


Ballot Language

Public Service Company Franchise

Shall the City of Boulder grant a franchise to Public Service Company of Colorado to furnish, sell and distribute gas and electricity to the city and to all persons, businesses, and industries within the city and the right to make reasonable use of all streets and other public places and public easements as may be necessary as described in Ordinance 8410?

FOR THE MEASURE ____ AGAINST THE MEASURE ____


Boulder voters will consider five ballot measures on the Nov. 3, 2020, election, including this one. Use the form on this page to ask the city factual questions about this ballot measure. City staff will answer questions submitted through Oct. 16.


Overview

Voters will decide whether the City of Boulder enters into a new 20-year franchise with Public Service Company of Colorado (Xcel Energy). A franchise agreement allows Xcel to use the city’s streets, public spaces and other rights-of-way to deliver electricity and natural gas.

The franchise agreement is a part of a larger settlement package that is subject to voter approval of the franchise agreement. The settlement package includes an agreement that the city will pause its efforts to create a local electric utility, an agreement for Xcel and the city to work together to meet the city’s energy goals and terms for how the city can opt-out of the franchise in future years. Read about the settlement package and access documents on the city website.

Ask questions about the franchise agreement or larger settlement package here.


Ballot Language

Public Service Company Franchise

Shall the City of Boulder grant a franchise to Public Service Company of Colorado to furnish, sell and distribute gas and electricity to the city and to all persons, businesses, and industries within the city and the right to make reasonable use of all streets and other public places and public easements as may be necessary as described in Ordinance 8410?

FOR THE MEASURE ____ AGAINST THE MEASURE ____

CLOSED: The city closed this Q&A on Oct. 16.

Under the Fair Campaign Practices Act, the city is limited to the information we can provide during election season. We will not provide opinion or analysis, but we can provide factual information in response to specific questions to help inform your decisions. We will answer questions submitted through Oct. 16. 

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    Community Energy Reports: We know that IBM and the University of Colorado are Xcel largest local customers. How much of the pie do these represent? I ask because it is clear that these two entities will be moving to microgrids, for the lowest rates as well as the resilience in the very near future (the pricing for solar+storage is aggressively decreasing) and that is going to leave the rest of us bearing the rate increase on those left standing. And of course, this will increase the abandonment of the utility which increases the equity disparity we are trying to level out. So having the large accounts abandon the fold creates a large vulnerability for the rest of us. The same can be said for Grow Houses and the coming EV switch. So how much of our local mix is tied up in large consumption by businesses vulnerable to behind the meter solutions?

    the.dragons.be.here asked 22 days ago

    According to the 2019 Community Energy Report, business customers represented 80% of total community electricity consumption

    •  For the year (1,004,603,905 kWh of 1,256,916,867 total electricity consumption).
    • The city does not possess annual electricity consumption data for individual customers.
    • The city also does not have any information about any customer plans to install solar plus storage and to no longer remain a customer of Xcel.
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    Undergrounding: It is my understanding that undergrounding is going to apply to the Utility's distribution feeders only. This will not include undergrounding the final connection from feeder to the meter AND this will be at owner's expense. What is the cost per foot of the last connection from a now underground line to the meter?

    the.dragons.be.here asked 22 days ago

    There is nothing in the settlement that addresses the cost or payment structure of undergrounding the final connection. It will be determined under the partnership as it develops, if passed by voters.

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    When do costs become an investor burden instead of a rate-payer burden? For instance, if Xcel was charged a tariff for the carbon dioxide it is releasing into our shared atmosphere, they would probably turn around and ask the PUC to grant a rate hike so that the public could pay for it. However, there are cases such as the disputed 16 million Xcel sought above the 27 million granted as a rate hike which was denied by the PUC because customer value was not produced. The 16 million therefore came out of profits and therefore assumed by the shareholders. Is it possible to penalize the regulated monopoly for its continued use of coal in a declared Climate Emergency in such a way that it is not passed on to the rate-payers whoreports say wish to move to renewables but rather is paid by the shareholders who appear happy to continue producing wasteful inefficient energy (waste in heat) with high supply costs and even higher environmental costs?

    the.dragons.be.here asked 23 days ago

    Thanks for your question. Can you provide additional clarification or do you have a specific question about the ballot item?

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    What percentage of PSCo's distribution system asset value does the City of Boulder account for?

    1973CUGrad asked about 1 month ago

    Xcel is probably a better source for this data, but we there is some information we can provide.   

    We are not sure what you are defining as “PSCo’s distribution system asset value.”  You could be seeking: 

    1. The percentage from the amount of the asset value Xcel reports to the state for property tax purposes; or
    2. The percentage from the amount of the asset value Xcel reports in its FERC-1; or 
    3. The percentage from the amount of the asset value Xcel reports to shareholders or for other purposes.


    While we know that, depending on the methodology, Boulder represents about 4% of Xcel's customers, revenue and kwh sales, we cannot simply apply a 4% calculation to the numbers Xcel reports to the state, FERC or shareholders. Put another way, Boulder probably does not account for 4% of PSCo's distribution system asset value. This is in part because Boulder's distribution system is much older than the statewide average (large parts of Boulder's system are 40 to 70 years old, while much of Xcel's system statewide is newer). Due to depreciation of these assets, Boulder likely represents less than 4% of PSCo's distribution system asset value. 

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    What is the cumulative GHG reduction by 2030 from the current plan to move to 100% renewable vs. the cumulative GHG reduction by 2030 if we changed to Xcel's plan to reduce GHG by 80% by then?

    SusanP asked about 1 month ago

    Council member Mary Young asked a similar question on the carbon emissions that would result from only achieving an 80% renewable electricity mix rather than the current goal of 100% renewable electricity in 2030. Here was staff’s response: 

    Staff utilize a greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) model that forecasts electricity use based on current community growth trends and anticipated successes of city programs such as the Building Performance Ordinance. Based on this model, achieving only an 80% renewable electricity grid in 2030, rather than the 100% renewable electricity mix that is the current estimate for municipalization and a stated city goal, would result in approximately 215,000 metric tons of GHG annual emissions that would need to be offset through other means, such as carbon sequestration and/or increased reductions in natural gas and transportation fuel use.


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    You state that "The city expects to achieve 100% renewable electricity for Boulder through local programs, the partnership agreement and Xcel’s modification of its power supply to meet its goals." This is an opinion unless you can state what specific projects are going to give Boulder this 100% renewable electricity and who will pay for them. Please give me reason not to be highly skeptical of this opinion.

    1973CUGrad asked about 1 month ago

    There is growing agreement that the most viable path to deep emission reductions in the next 10 years is the conversion of 80% or more of all energy use—in buildings, transportation and business processes—to electricity generated from clean, renewable energy sources.

    Boulder’s Climate Commitment establishes a series of objectives to reduce fossil fuel demand from buildings and transportation; rapidly transition to an energy system and economy that is powered 100% or more by renewable clean electricity with 50% or more of that produced locally by 2030. The city remains committed to reaching its goals whether through the formation of a local electric utility or a future partnership with Xcel Energy.

    Boulder has established high-impact action priorities to achieve these objectives, particularly the 100% renewable electricity and local generation targets. Those actions are outlined under the “Clean Energy Sources” tab at the City’s Climate Commitment page: https://bouldercolorado.gov/climate/energy-future.

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    Sec. 2.5 B Please detail how fugitive emissions of methane will be accounted for under the CO2e benchmarks. Please indicate which parts of the methane supply chain will be included with specificity and indicate with specificity where this is detailed.

    Leslie_Glustrom asked about 1 month ago

    Xcel Energy reports direct methane emissions from stationary combustion for electric generation under The Climate Registry’s (TCR) Electric Sector Protocol and that can be found in their publicly available TCR summary reports under Scope 1 emissions.  

    According to Xcel Energy, the delivery of natural gas, or other fuels, to the electric generating facility is not directly associated with the generation of electricity sold, therefore not included in CO2e reported to TCR under the Electric Sector Protocol which accounts for emissions at the generating plant.   

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    How many miles of distribution feeder would be undergrounded in the current separation plan and how much is the estimated cost of this undergrounding?

    1973CUGrad asked 30 days ago

    The current separation plan does not include simultaneous undergrounding of existing facilities. It entails approximately 66 miles of new distribution feeder construction. This is a relatively even split between new construction for PSCo and new construction for Boulder Light and Power. Aside from a few isolated instances, almost all of the new construction will be underground.  In many instances, this is new underground infrastructure that parallels the existing underground infrastructure (that the other entity would operate after separation) and does not represent undergrounding of any existing overhead facilities.  Specific undergrounding outside of the purposes of separation was not contemplated or included in the separation plan.    

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    Please provide all analyses of stranded costs that the City of Boulder will be responsible for if it adopts the proposed Xcel franchise.

    Leslie_Glustrom asked about 1 month ago
    • Staff has not conducted any analyses of stranded cost for a scenario in which the franchise is adopted.
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    Please detail expected separation costs for forming a municipal electric utility. Thank you

    Leslie Glustrom asked about 1 month ago

    Based on the information that is currently available, the current estimate for separation costs is approximately $187M. This estimate is in 2020 dollars and includes:

    1. PSCo’s 2020 construction cost estimate, which includes:
      1. Separation Construction Costs as directed by the Agreement for Payment of Costs, which is inclusive of: 
        1. Internal Labor
        2. Consulting/Contracted Services
        3. Materials/Expenses
        4. Land Acquisition
    2. Substation Separation Costs
      1. These are based on partially complete engineering designs for four of the six necessary substation sites which PSCo has agreed to honor the facilities studies for
    3. Boulder’s Distribution Separation Construction Estimate, which includes:
      1. Boulder’s 2018 estimate for distribution separation applies to the separation plan outside of substations, inflated to 2020 dollars
      2. The distribution detailed designs will be complete in the coming month and the City subsequently anticipates receipt of a more updated and accurate number at that point in time.
    4. Boulder’s Substation Separation Construction Estimate, which assumes a similar arrangement to what was negotiated in the 2020 settlement would be agreed upon between the parties and includes:
      1. Boulder’s estimate for the separation work that PSCo will conduct at the remaining two substation sites to effectuate separation. This work was not included in PSCo’s estimate.
      2. Boulder’s estimate for the work that Boulder would conduct to effectuate separation at all six substation sites.  This includes the construction of the three new substations and some form of separation at the other three. 

    Each of these categories has various ranges of contingencies applied by either PSCo or Boulder to account for the degree of uncertainty of each cost estimate.  This figure does not include other costs, such as, but not limited to: 

    • Estimates for capital costs PSCo will incur for which the City will pay from the date of valuation until the date of cutover as provided in the agreement for payment of costs.
    • Start-Up and Transition Costs
    • Acquisition Costs
    • Stranded Costs