Clean Power

Published on January 29th, 2013 | by John Farrell


Why Boulder Has To Buy Out Its Electric Utility For A Clean Energy Future

January 29th, 2013 by  

In late 2011, citizens of Boulder, CO, voted to boot their incumbent electric utility, Xcel Energy, and form a municipal electric utility. It was the culmination of a multi-year battle to get more clean, local energy from their corporate electric overlord.  In the end, city leaders and citizens agreed that the only credible option for significantly reducing their contribution to climate change was to go it alone. Now, the city is embarked on the long, complicated process of localizing their electricity system.

Susan Osborne was the mayor of Boulder at the time of the climatic vote, and she came to Minneapolis (with a similar campaign for local energy) in September 2012 to share their story. This 4-minute video gives the synopsis:

You can learn more about Boulder’s efforts for clean, local energy here.

This post originally appeared on ILSR’s Energy Self-Reliant States blog.

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About the Author

directs the Democratic Energy program at ILSR and he focuses on energy policy developments that best expand the benefits of local ownership and dispersed generation of renewable energy. His seminal paper, Democratizing the Electricity System, describes how to blast the roadblocks to distributed renewable energy generation, and how such small-scale renewable energy projects are the key to the biggest strides in renewable energy development.   Farrell also authored the landmark report Energy Self-Reliant States, which serves as the definitive energy atlas for the United States, detailing the state-by-state renewable electricity generation potential. Farrell regularly provides discussion and analysis of distributed renewable energy policy on his blog, Energy Self-Reliant States (, and articles are regularly syndicated on Grist and Renewable Energy World.   John Farrell can also be found on Twitter @johnffarrell, or at

  • James

    While Boulder runs down endless global warming rabbit holes, real world environmental hazards are ignored. Thousands of spent nuclear fuel rods are stored in temporary cooling ponds throughout the US where they are subject to both terrorism and natural disasters. This radioactive material can be recycled, rendered innert and stored in safe repositories. This is just one example of how pop science, in this case global warming, can divert limited public resources to causes for which little or nothing can be achieved. Wise up Boulder!

    • James, ignoring over a century worth of science conducted by thousands of well-trained and thoughtful scientists is hardly intelligent. To call GW a rabbit hole is to basically tell your reader that you probably aren’t trustworthy. In fact, I agree with you on the concerns of nuclear, but you really need to spend a lot more time reading up on the science of global warming if you want to be taken more seriously.

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