City of Lafayette Ballot Question No. 2A
Xcel Franchise Renewal
Lafayette’s Question 2A is all about envisioning the future. Xcel
Energy, through its ownership of Public Service Company of Colorado,
supplies Lafayette residents with gas and electricity by way of a
non-exclusive franchise agreement.
like any business, likes to create long-term stability for itself, and
one way of doing so is to offer incentives to cities in exchange for
their committing to very long-term franchise agreements.
Lafayette, Xcel wants voters to grant the company another 20-year fran
chise agreement. In exchange, the company will add approximately
$720,000 a year into the city’s general fund from its franchise fee.
Xcel also will give the city about $180,000 a year for the purpose of
undergrounding its power lines and other utility infrastructure. In
other words, Xcel’s vision of the future is two more decades exactly
like the last two decades. Such a view makes perfect sense to protect
future profit for a utility monopoly with a guaranteed margin of profit
on everything it does.
who oppose the granting of a new 20-year franchise agreement to Xcel
have a different view of the future. They believe that technology is
rapidly changing the world we live in. They believe that no one, not
them nor Xcel, can say with any certainty what amazing advancements on
the energy front may come down over the next two decades.
who oppose signing a new 20-year franchise agreement fear that
Lafayette residents, because of having committed to a new agreement with
Xcel, may find themselves using electricity generated by dirty coal or
methane-leaking natural gas long after better, cleaner, more
sustainable fuels have become available simply because Xcel may see
those dirty fuels as the most profitable choice for the company. BW believes that this is a valid fear.
So what happens if Lafayette voters say no to 2A?
of all, Xcel will still be required to provide the city with gas and
electricity, so there will not be any disruption of service.
Xcel will no longer be putting $720,000 into the general fund. That’s
why those opposed to the franchise are also encouraging voters to vote
yes on Lafayette Issue No. 301, which would create a Utility Occupation
Tax (UOT) that would still be part of area utility bills and would
replace the $720,000 franchise fee.
other words, Lafayette residents would be paying exactly the same for
their electricity and gas and still generating $720,000. Here’s the
point of decision.
the franchise agreement would put $720K into the general fund, the UOT
that would be created by the passage of Issue No. 301 would put $720K
into a fund earmarked for investing in renewable energies, energy
efficiencies and other sustainable energy practices.
who want to sign the 20-yearlong Xcel franchise agreement claim that
losing $720K from the general budget will somehow cripple the city,
causing cuts to services such as police, fire, ambulance and the
that this is largely a scare tactic. The city of Lafayette is actually
doing quite well. As a matter of comparison, Lafayette currently
spends $5.3 million a year on golf course expenditures. That’s more
than three times the amount being shifted into sustainable energy,
assuming that the franchise agreement does not pass and Issue No. 301
does. While $720K is hardly chickenfeed, it is only just more than 1
percent of Lafayette’s overall budget. So putting that money towards a
sustainable energy future will hardly cause the draconian cuts being
threatened by city officials.
fact, modern economic research indicates that when a city demonstrates
that it is thinking of the future in a sustainable, environmentally
responsible way, it has a better chance of luring high-paying jobs and
green businesses into its tax base. Just one successful business of good
size relocating to, or starting up in, Lafayette would pay back the
$720K investment in a sustainable future many times over.
last issue being touted by those who support a yes vote on the Xcel
franchise renewal is that Lafayette would lose the $180K per year
undergrounding revenue currently being paid by Xcel to the city. This is
true. That revenue would go away if the franchise fee is not approved,
but the city would still have a full year to use up the $1.2 million
it has already accrued towards undergrounding efforts. That money
should not be lost, as some critics now claim.
Like we said at the beginning, it’s all in the way you view the future. So with that said, BW optimistically
endorses the view of those citizens opposed to Question 2A. It’s time
to move into the current century and away from coal and the dirty
extraction processes of natural gas. Vote no on 2A and allow Lafayette’s
energy future to be determined by advances in green energy technology,
not by an incredibly long-term franchise agreement binding citizens to
an old-school utility monopoly for decades to come.
View all of Boulder Weekly’s endorsements here.