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Updated September 22, 2014
Protecting Our Customers
For years, the City of Boulder has been exploring if it is going to attempt to take over Xcel Energy’s electric business in and around Boulder. We still believe that Boulder can best meet its energy goals by partnering with our company. As Boulder presses forward, Xcel Energy continues to take steps in this process that protects all of its customers. Several actions have been taken by both Xcel Energy and the city of Boulder in recent months, which are outlined below.
Boulder Files for Condemnation
On July 17, Boulder filed its condemnation case with the Boulder District Court, beginning the process that would allow them to take control of PSCo assets in that area. On August 12, Xcel Energy filed a motion to dismiss the condemnation case.
Although there are various shortcomings with Boulder’s filing, the grounds for the motion are tied to Boulder’s failure to comply with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) order and state law. The CPUC order is clear – before Boulder files a condemnation case, the CPUC must evaluate the city’s plans to ensure that they will not harm non-Boulder customers and the state-wide electric system as it relates to safety and reliability. Although Boulder is challenging the CPUC’s decision, it is still the law and the Judge in Boulder’s challenge has not yet issued her order.
While Boulder’s plan to date includes serving Xcel Energy customers in Boulder County, Boulder did not include PSCo’s CPCN (Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity) in its condemnation petition, it did include facilities that are in the county. The CPCN is issued to PSCo by the CPUC and gives PSCo the exclusive right and obligation to serve the county customers in question. The city has indicated that it reserves the right to address the county customer issue in the future.
Despite these pending legal issues, both to be decided by the Boulder District Court, the city of Boulder continued its process and released a transition plan on August 14.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) must grant prior approval of the transfer of transmission assets greater than $10 million under Section 203 of the Federal Power Act. Related to this rule, Xcel Energy has asked that the FERC issue a declaratory ruling on the following:
• The city of Boulder cannot condemn the transmission facilities it seeks without prior FERC approval;
• In considering whether to grant approval, the FERC will consider such factors as cost impacts and the impact on system reliability; and
• The FERC jurisdiction does not replace or override the CPUC’s jurisdiction.
As noted above in “Boulder Files for Condemnation,” instead of following the CPUC’s directive, Boulder opted to file a condemnation case against the company in July, which also fails to acknowledge the FERC’s jurisdiction over the transfer of transmission facilities. This is why PSCo filed the request with the FERC. Asking for the ruling also assures that the courts will not be left with a misimpression about required regulatory approvals.
Boulder’s Challenge to the PUC Ruling
In relation to Boulder’s challenge to the CPUC ruling, Xcel Energy filed a request with the court to allow Xcel Energy to respond to new arguments and inaccuracies in Boulder’s July 23 brief. The judge granted this request, as well as a similar one made by the CPUC. Boulder’s position is that, for now, it does not intend to serve certain county customers. This does not excuse Boulder from compliance with the CPUC’s order and state law. The PUC’s ruling covers matters related to Boulder attempting to serve county customers as well as the PUC’s need to determine the best way to maintain the reliability of the integrated electric grid so that all customers have safe and reliable service. County customers are still impacted by Boulder’s latest plans (outlined in its condemnation case) because the city is proposing to take the facilities that serve them and has indicated it may also decide to try to serve them in the future. The city’s filing of the condemnation petition is in direct violation of the CPUC order.
Boulder filed a response to the Xcel Energy’s sur-reply brief outlined above. In that response, the city states that the CPCN issue has not been withdrawn from their appeal, meaning that they expect to keep the issue of serving county customers open.
Learn more about how Xcel Energy is meeting the renewable energy challenge in Colorado. View the video.
More detail on these events and the supporting information is available at www.YourBoulderEnergy.com or contact Craig Eicher.
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