Letters: 11/2/17

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Let’s maintain our negotiating leverage with Xcel

I’m an entrepreneur and small business owner who lives in Boulder, and I’m a strong advocate for voting yes on the two municipalization-related ballot initiatives: 2L and 2O. Without 2L, we won’t have an alternative to Xcel Energy that would pose any serious competition for them, and this would put us at a significant disadvantage for future negotiations. 

Every good businessperson knows that having competing alternatives helps yield the best deal, and we’ve already seen Xcel’s proposals improve tremendously in recent years as we’ve explored municipalization. 

Also, the cost of 2L is a drop in the bucket compared to the long-term savings we’d achieve through either municipalization or a better deal with Xcel.

I believe that businesses are more efficient than government entities. So, when I first heard about municipalization, I thought, “how could a publicly-owned utility possibly be more cost-effective than an investor-owned utility?” Then I learned that Colorado’s largest municipal utilities, such as Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and Longmont, all have cheaper rates than Xcel. Xcel is not a typical business that must compete in a normal marketplace. Instead, they’re a regulated monopoly that has never had to compete, so they aren’t harnessing the same innovative and competitive advantages the way normal businesses do. Also, unlike municipal utilities, Xcel must charge more to pay a return to stockholders. 

Ultimately, the threat of municipalization scares Xcel and motivates them to provide us with a better alternative. Let’s make them compete with a municipalization option that could yield lower rates, more renewable energy and more control for our energy future.

Lastly, I like that 2O requires another vote before municipalization could potentially occur. 2O keeps control for the final decision firmly in our hands while 2L maximizes our negotiating leverage with Xcel Energy.

Vote yes for 2L and 2O.

Blake Jones is a co-founder of Boulder-based Namaste Solar and Clean Energy Credit Union and a former engineer in the oil and gas industry.

Council candidate would bring balance

I am writing to support Cindy Carlisle as a very excellent candidate in this pivotal Council election. Cindy brings governing experience, knowledge about complex issues, long perspective on Boulder and real people skills to the table at exactly the right time. She has the wisdom to listen and respect all points of view.

PLAN-Boulder County is not “fear-mongering;” they are giving voice to real fear. One piece is that the current height moratorium expires on July 19, 2018. The next Council will have enormous power over the future of this signature Boulder issue. I applaud PLAN for sounding the alarm that those concerned should pay attention now. It is inappropriate to disparage this organization, which has contributed enormously for almost 60 years to the evolution of Boulder values and character.

Together4Boulder was formed not because their growing number of members want to cling to the past, but because of concern about how and where we go from here. It is forward-looking, not backward-looking, and attempts to polarize this discussion do a real disservice to the quality of debate we need in the community and on Council.

The question that stands out for me most in this election is “balance.” The spurt in large-scale development in the last 10 years feels a like a runaway train. It has become a Herculean task to be an engaged citizen. Now is the time to carefully consider the consequences of public processes and decisions on a city which has evolved with such care and thoughtfulness for generations. I want Council members who will do that.

There are several candidates who pass my “balance” test, but Cindy rises to the top. We need her commitment to public engagement and proven integrity to work for all of Boulder.

Randi Stroh/Boulder

Clear choice for Council for housing upgrades

I grew up in Longmont and graduated from Niwot High School in 2014. In late 2015, I moved to Boulder to finish my degree at CU Boulder. Like many families in our county, mine was a single-parent household working hard to pay the bills every month with very little to spare for the cost of college. I was determined to rent my own apartment in Boulder close to the university, but it came at a cost.

The conditions were poor. I lived in the cheapest unit in the building — the one with windows facing a concrete wall that held the lingering smell of ammonia. My student loans did not come close to covering rent, so I relied on a part-time job in food service to make rent. If I missed a day at work, I knew I would be at risk of losing my home. My food budget averaged $25 a week to pay the rest for housing.

I know I’m not alone in the struggle to find quality and affordable housing in Boulder. Many of my peers have ended up in overcrowded (and even dangerous) living situations within the city because it is the only way they can afford to remain in Boulder. Fortunately, City Council has the power ensure housing is accessible to students.

That’s why I’m voting for Eric Budd for Boulder City Council on Nov. 7. I’ve known Eric since I moved to Boulder and his priority is to ensure everyone — students included — are able to afford to live in this great city by preserving existing lower-cost housing options, creating duplexes and ensuring that zoning laws are reasonable. His commitment to expanding options for people like me gives me hope for the future of Boulder.

Hannah Fertig/Boulder

Other answers for housing

In Leora Frankel’s recent opinion piece on Boulder election spending, [Re: “Big money is playing Boulder during elections,” Oct. 26] she makes the comment that “Both Open Boulder and Better Boulder are touting density as a solution to problems of affordability. Boulder now has a decent supply of apartments, vacant at above-average rates, that are not affordable to the middle class; I find the density arguments unpersuasive but cannot delve into them further here due to space limitations.”

If that sounds like a cop out, that’s because it is. City Observatory (cityobservatory.org) recently published an excellent piece, “Signs of the times,” that demonstrates what happens when a city effectively deals with its housing crisis. Portland responded to rapid increases in rent by building more market-rate housing. Rent increases stopped. More housing made Portland more affordable. It would do the same in Boulder.

Chris F. Nicholson/Boulder

Move forward on clean energy

In a talk a few days ago at Yale University, Bill McKibben pointed out that even if every nation kept their promises made with the Paris Climate Accords, the actions are small and slow enough that temperatures would continue to rise something like 3.5 degrees Celsius in the lifetime of today’s college students. And if we indeed allow that to happen, it will end civilization as we know it. That is the bottom line.

Our job now, McKibben said, is to pick up the pace of addressing climate change. “Climate change,” he said, “is a war in which winning slowly is just another way of losing.” Xcel’s proposed path forward, which keeps burning coal until 2070, and at best would still be 45 percent fossil fueled, is simply too slow — it’s just another way of losing. (Xcel recently filed to increase the average residential rate by 9.6 percent over the next four years.)

I’m in favor of keeping civilization and preserving the planet that we love.  If you’re college age, or love someone who is of college age, vote yes on Ballot Issue 2L to keep us moving forward for clean energy and a livable future.

Duncan Gilchrist/Boulder

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