City of Boulder Ballot Question No. 310
City debt limitations
was polling Boulder residents about the language of Question 310 even
as the company was denying that it had anything to do with getting the
question on the ballot. And then, Xcel threw $300,000 behind the
question in its effort to get it passed.
Why such interest?
Because Xcel wants to keep its profitable Boulder customers and it
understands what some in Boulder still don’t, namely, that Question 310
has been designed as a Trojan horse capable of destroying any chance
for the city of Boulder to create its own electric utility dedicated to
sourcing its power in the most environmentally sustainable way
Xcel is trying to buy the passage of 310, which has been disguised as a
ballot measure to enhance democratic participation and strengthen
taxpayer control over local government expenditures.
310 may look good on the outside, but open the trap door and gander
within and you’ll see a time bomb waiting to destroy all the hard work
that’s gone into the municipalization process thus far.
It’s all in the timing of future events created by the wording.
of all, as for the passage of 310 giving the 7,000 county residents —
those who live outside Boulder’s city limits but who would likely be
getting their electricity from the new city-owned utility — a vote on
municipalization, it can’t. State law would have to be changed in order
for the City of Boulder or Xcel to conduct such a vote. Nice idea. BW also
wishes they had had a chance to vote from the beginning, but 310 will
do nothing to solve this loophole in the democratic process.
for voter approval when debt needs to be issued, no other utility in
the state, municipal or otherwise, has to go through the time- and
resource- consuming process of getting voter approval every time it
needs to use debt to properly function as an ongoing business. It is an
impractical burden that would make it impossible for the city to
operate a utility.
already voted to approve the municipalization of their electric
utility as long as it wouldn’t cost them more for electricity and it
could be just as reliable as the current monopoly system controlled by
Xcel. The city has gone through a painstaking process to determine the
feasibility of creating such a city-owned system and has concluded that
it can be done under the requirements of equal cost and reliability as
long as certain parameters are met. And to make sure voters are
comfortable with those parameters, Boulder City Council has gone so far
as to put Question 2E on the ballot to guarantee a maximum spending
limit on the acquisition of Xcel’s assets and stranded costs. In other
words, voting yes on 2E effectively eliminates any need, pretend or
otherwise, for the passage of 310.
2E safeguards taxpayers from any possibility that the city will
overspend, without adding the extra time bomb of having to get voter
approval for debt before the amount of the debt can even be accurately
To put it
bluntly, there is no viable plan B should Question 310 pass. If it
passes, municipalization is dead and all the time, energy and money
invested to date will have been a total waste. The only option in the
future would be to return to square one someday with a new ballot
measure and repeat the exact same process that has just been done, no
doubt arriving at the same conclusions.
to what purpose? Such a do-over someday would simply be met once
again by a similar disinformation campaign designed to scare people
into maintaining the status quo no matter how detrimental to the
as in we as human beings, are running out of time. We must confront
global warming now by getting off of coal and yes, even
methane-leaking natural gas as sources for generating our electricity
as quickly as possible. Not next decade or even next year.
day we spend talking about the changes we must make instead of acting
to make those changes is another day closer to too late, too late for
our planet, too late for our children.
let a giant corporation driven only by its fiduciary duty to create
and maintain maximum profit for its shareholders dupe you into voting
for Question 310.
If you mark only one box on your ballot this year, make it a no vote on Question 310.
View all of Boulder Weekly’s endorsements here.