Case Studies

Boulder, Colorado

How a push to create government power set one progressive city’s energy goals back a decade

In 2011, residents of Boulder were mad at their electric utility for stubbornly refusing to adopt clean energy policies. Recognizing the urgency of climate action, they voted to approve a new tax to initiate a government takeover of their electrical grid.

Their goal: a new government power agency by 2017.

If only they could have known...

  • Boulder taxpayers ultimately spent $29 million over 10 years trying to win this legal battle.

  • By 2020, they still didn’t have their new government agency.

  • Worst of all, they had fallen behind many neighboring cities on cutting carbon emissions, because the privately owned utility had accelerated their work on renewables and grid modernization.

This expensive, failed takeover attempt had set their ambitious climate change goals back a decade.

“I’ve become convinced that pursuing the muni[cipal takeover of an electric utility] does not help to move our clean energy goals forward….We need to be acting on climate change now. Our existential crisis is climate change, not utility business models.”