Category Archives: Uncategorized

The World is Watching: Municipalization & Energy Democracy

For the past three months, Dutch graduate student Mara de Pater, has researched energy democracy in Boulder as part of Environmental Sciences and Anthropology studies. The research, aimed at understanding how the Boulder community gives meaning to the concept of energy democracy, focused on the community’s strong values and beliefs and how the city took on the challenge of exploring municipalization.

Mara will present findings from dozens of interviews, community meetings, and focus groups at the Main Branch Boulder Public Library (1001 Arapahoe Avenue, in the Boulder Creek Room) at 7:00 p.m. next Monday, April 23rd. Her presentation is open to the public, so join us for what promises to be a fascinating evening, and bring a friend!

Where: Boulder Public Library

1001 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder CO 80302

Boulder Creek Room

When: Monday, April 23rd 2018 7:00-8:30 PM

See you there!

Senator Stephen Fenberg on Local Power vs. Corporate Power

In an interview last month with John Farrell at the Institute for Local Self Reliance, Colorado Senator Stephen Fenberg voiced his opinions on the importance of local power in terms of demanding energy from cleaner sources.  He spoke about the long standing debate of switching to more clean energy sources in an economically feasible manner. He states that technology will allow cheap clean energy, but the barrier that is holding back this transfer from coal power to renewables is orchestrated politically and legally by the utilities.steve His argument is not inherently against investor-owned utilities, it is about the role our utilities play in maintaining and promoting the regulatory barriers that exist today and prevent us from pursuing renewable energy to its fullest extent. Fenberg enforces the idea that  “utilities do have an immense amount of power and authority and financial resources behind them”, which makes it difficult for communities to hold a threat to utilities.

What’s really exciting now though, is that technologies are available and are cheap enough to move us to a clean energy future. At this point it’s about giving communities the opportunity and power to control their energy future. Senator Fenberg describes how “there shouldn’t be these regulatory barriers to keeping individuals, as well as communities, from being able to use these technologies and new opportunities to have more control over their energy future.”

It is now regulation, not technology, that stands between Boulder and its objectives. That is why municipalization is necessary for Boulder to meet its renewable energy goals. The process is not quick or simple, but because of the challenges Fenberg discusses, Boulder needs to take control of its energy future before the City can pursue the many exciting options and technologies that will take Boulder to its renewable energy future.

Check out the full interview here for more information about Senator Fenberg’s thoughts on local power.

Climate Coalitions State Intentions in Bonn and Make Demands in Denver

Last week international leaders met at COP23, the second “conference of the parties” since the signing of the Paris Agreement. They were meeting to discuss what global climate policy will look like both before and after 2020, when the Agreement officially goes into effect. President Donald Trump’s announcement earlier this year that he plans to withdraw the United States from the Agreement set the tone of the discussions for the official US delegation. However, they were not the only Americans present in Bonn. An unofficial delegation of citizens traveled to the conference, also to represent the United States and to deliver a simple message to the rest of the world: we are still in.

Acitvists gather in Bonn ahead of COP23 summit

This second delegation delivered the America’s Pledge Phase 1 report, detailing the efforts of committed citizens to uphold the standards agreed to in Paris in 2015, in spite of the federal government’s  withdrawal. This comprehensive report discusses the success of the U.S. Climate Alliance (of which Colorado is a proud member and CEA is a proud supporter) and other coalitions that are dedicated to picking up the banner of climate action where the Trump administration has let it fall. This We Are Still In delegation, collectively representing more than half of America’s economy, detailed the steps they have taken to begin working from the bottom up to achieve the 2025 U.S. emissions outcomes asked for by the Paris Accords, and promised additional analysis in a Phase 2 report to be published in 2018.


As US climate leaders proudly declared their intentions in Bonn, a smaller group of local activists met in Denver to deliver a petition to Xcel Energy at their local headquarters, asking the utility to take the next step towards the post-fossil fuel world.  This group was led by 350 Colorado and the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, which represents Clean Energy Action and 22 community, faith, and environmental organizations from around Colorado. Our requests included

  • the closure of all Xcel coal plants by 2030
  • the closure of all fracking gas plants by 2035
  • a commitment to convert to at least 80% renewable sources of electricity by 2030
  • completion of a study by the end of 2018 that explores how to achieve 100% renewable electricity in Colorado by 2030
Micah Parkin delivers the petition to Xcel corporate HQ at 1800 Larimer Streeet

The CCLC represents more than 100,00 Coloradans, and this petition represents the work of countless climate warriors across the state who believe that now is the time for Xcel to end their lifelong reliance on coal and natural gas. “Xcel Energy has a great opportunity to move away from fossil fuels and provide customers with the affordable, clean energy they’re demanding,” said Kevin Cross, a member of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group and a leader of CCLC. As American leaders announce our renewed commitment to the Paris Agreement in Germany, there is no better time for our electric utility to step up its commitment to providing cleaner, cheaper energy for our state.


On the same day, separated by an ocean and thousands of miles, two coalitions delivered two statements to which Clean Energy Action was a party. In May, we asked our supporters to sign a petition to Governor Hickenlooper to sign Colorado onto the US Climate Alliance, and we see the effects of those signatures in Bonn where Colorado is one of nine states fully committed to the coalition. More recently we asked our supporters to affix their names to the CCLC’s petition to Xcel, and our voices were heard loud and clear in Denver last week demanding a greener, more efficient future. We thank the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate, the We Are Still Coalition, and the US Climate Alliance, but most of all we thank all of you who provide the citizen power that carries us forward.

For further reading, check out the articles by Climate Action and the Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate.

In Xcel’s Hometown, Energy Independence Expert John Farrell says VOTE YES on 2L

Boulder, we have a friend in Xcel’s hometown of Minneapolis, MN.
John Farrell of the Institute of Local Self Reliance has been educating communities for years on the economic benefits of self governance for essentials like energy, banking and waste management.   Needless to say he took careful note when Minneapolis looked into municipalization, which did not pass just a few years ago.  Today he says:  “If I had the chance to go to the polls tomorrow and give Minneapolis the opportunity to take over, I would do it.”  See his whole message for Boulder at the link below.

John Farrell has been teaching that “communities have to take control of their energy future, regardless of whether the federal government is a clean energy friend or foe.”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/10NpEIHtHhWrkZ3S5JU4rI3B_LM4P6VO0/view

 

CEA Always Supported Muni ~ We Still Do

 

Clean Energy Action’s research has been near the heart of the City of Boulder’s understanding of why working with a coal-based investor-owned utility (IOU) can be so difficult for cities that are serious about clean energy and shutting down fossil-powered generation.  We have been early but quiet supporters of local power – a municipal utility created for clean energy generation plus local innovation, more reliability and possibly lower rates.

For years CEA has accessed XcelEnergy’s dockets at the Public Utilities Commission and found the layers of power and law that protect the monopoly’s hold on the electricity market in most of Colorado. From those documents came the truth of the company’s generation plans with the fuel costs being passed straight to ratepayers while the profits go out of state, from the  return-on-investment on capital spent on fossil-burning plants. Even as coal proved to have an untenable future with the industry’s many bankruptcies (never mind the climate impacts), Xcel overbuilt its coal burning fleet, and its whole system, for profits.

All of this was done in the face of increasingly visible climate change. All of this was done as the cost-competitiveness of wind power was proven in Xcel’s dockets. All of this was done amid state politics that were unlikely to pass legislation (such as Community Choice Aggregation, or Deregulation) to allow jurisdictions to contract independently for their electricity.  Xcel customers have been trapped with Xcel’s foot dragging on clean energy and restrictions on distributed generation & storage, all to protect the “central-gen” model based on fossil-burning plants.

All of this is why CEA embraced the many advantages of municipalization – local municipal power that promises to be more affordable, reliable and responsive to ratepayers than IOU power ever can be.  Boulder should continue this journey to find out the true costs of this venture!

With that, we refer you to many fine sources on this:

Bill McKibben Endorses 2L

Liberate Our Power! – Video